1988 Legislative Session: 2nd
Session, 34th Parliament
following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 4, 1988
[ Page 4247 ]
Credit Union Amendment Act, 1988 (Bill 25). Hon. Mr. Couvelier
Introduction and first reading –– 4247
Privatization of liquor stores. Ms. A. Hagen –– 4247
Beer and wine licence application. Mr. Lovick –– 4248
Grape growing industry. Mr. Harcourt –– 4248
Tabling Documents –– 4249
Committee of Supply: Ministry of Tourism, Recreation and Culture estimates.
(Hon. Mr. Reid)
On vote 65: minister's office –– 4249
Hon. Mr. Reid
Mr. R. Fraser
The House met at 2:05 p.m.
MS. SMALLWOOD: I'd like to introduce three constituents visiting us in the precincts today: Agnes Flynn, her daughter Cindy and her friend Lorraine Terry.
MR. R. FRASER: I'd like to introduce to the House today a group of about 85 students from Churchill secondary school, along with their teachers, Mr. Martin and Mr. Williams. They've been touring the buildings and other Victoria facilities, learning a little bit about how the system works. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a few of them sitting in the House one day. Would you join me in giving them a good welcome.
MR. HARCOURT: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to bring greetings to all 85 students from Churchill secondary school, and the Churchill Bulldogs. I happen to be one of the graduates of the finest high school in British Columbia. Welcome to the Legislature.
MR. R. FRASER: I've made a special exception today, Mr. Speaker: a separate introduction of the students on behalf of my colleague the Hon. Stephen Rogers, Minister of Highways.
MR. LOVICK: I would also like to ask the House to join me in welcoming a constituent of mine from Gabriola Island, Mr. John Kenchenten.
MR. LOENEN: I'd like the House to welcome someone who has worked a great deal on the exciting employee stock ownership plan, and who's perhaps more knowledgeable about this plan than anyone in British Columbia, Mr. Olaf Klassen. Would the House please welcome him.
Introduction of Bills
CREDIT UNION AMENDMENT ACT, 1988
Hon. Mr. Couvelier presented a message from His Honour the Administrator: a bill intituled Credit Union Amendment Act, 1988.
HON. MR. COUVELIER: Mr. Speaker, these amendments to the Credit Union Act clarify that the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation possesses the ancillary powers necessary to effect an amalgamation of supervised credit unions and that such an amalgamation is binding on the credit union members. As well, the act is being amended to facilitate the appointment of lawyers as directors of credit unions.
Under the Credit Union Act CUDIC is given the power to direct a credit union under supervision to amalgamate with another credit union. However, the act does not expressly authorize CUDIC to take the procedural steps necessary to complete an amalgamation, nor does it make clear that such a direction by CUDIC is binding on the credit union members.
These amendments to the Credit Union Act will clarify that CUDIC has both the authority to direct an amalgamation of two credit unions under supervision and to carry out the amalgamation. The amendments will be retroactive to ensure that the credit union created by the amalgamation of First Pacific Credit Union and Westcoast Savings Credit Union is properly constituted and authorized to carry on business.
I commend this bill for your consideration and urge its passage.
Mr. Speaker, I move the bill be introduced and read a first time now.
Bill 25 introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
PRIVATIZATION OF LIQUOR STORES
MS. A. HAGEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier regarding privatization of liquor stores. Did the government receive a single submission recommending the establishment of privately operated liquor stores?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: I'll defer to the Minister of Labour and Consumer Services.
HON. L. HANSON: If I understand the question: did we receive a single submission on the privatization of liquor stores?
MS. A. HAGEN: In favour of.
HON. L. HANSON: We didn't receive any submissions that I know of. The committee that was working on the report on privatization of liquor stores, to the best of my knowledge, didn't receive any submissions to that effect.
MS. A. HAGEN: A further question to the Premier. The Minister of Labour and Consumer Services says that government has decided not to sell existing government liquor stores, because they can operate more efficiently than private stores. What benefit will there be to the government or the public as a result of establishing private liquor stores?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: I think you may have inadvertently misquoted the Minister of Labour, so I'll defer to the Minister of Labour and Consumer Services.
HON. L. HANSON: I would like to see where I'm quoted as saying government liquor stores operate more efficiently. I think the statement did read — and I did say — that there are some financial implications to privatization of those liquor stores, and that may be where the misunderstanding is. Government liquor stores operate quite efficiently, and the people who are in charge of those operations are quite proud of that fact.
MS. A. HAGEN: I'd like to ask a further question to the Premier in respect to the responses from his Minister of Labour and Consumer Services that there was no submission in favour of the privatization of liquor stores; his confirmation, in fact, that government liquor stores operate very well. This has to do with a broader policy.
A joint committee of ministry officials, police and representatives of municipalities have been asked to report to
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government regarding problems that may stem from liquor policy changes. Why has a policy regarding such changes been announced before this committee has finalized its report, and will the Premier now indicate that he has decided to delay any further commitment to liquor privatization until we are assured that the concerns of municipalities and the police can be satisfactorily dealt with?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: This obviously involves policy for the Ministry of Labour and Consumer Services, so I'll defer to the Minister of Labour and Consumer Services.
HON. L. HANSON: I think the committee that the member is referring to may be a committee made up of representatives from UBCM and my ministry to look at such things as special occasion licences, the 11 o'clock closing as it relates to licensee retail stores and off sales within neighbourhood pubs and hotels, and that the announcement made yesterday on the privatization of liquor stores really has very little to do with that committee or the information that we are expecting to come back from that committee. There isn't any correlation between those two. Maybe the member can ask a question that is more appropriate for that committee.
MS. A. HAGEN: To the Minister of Labour and Consumer Services. Considering that the report of the Jansen committee deals with the matter of access to liquor and the cost to society of liquor in the order of $2 billion, can the minister afford this House any reason why the announcement was made yesterday that all future stores will be in the private sector and that he is moving to deregulate the liquor industry in this province?
HON. L. HANSON: The assumption that the member opposite has made is sort of interesting. If you go back and look at the press release, we did not say that all future liquor stores will be private liquor stores. I think what we said — as a matter of fact I know what we said — is that when we see the need for another liquor store in a location, we will offer that location to the public on a tender or proposal process. Failing any interest in that location by the public, there's a good possibility it could be a government liquor store.
BEER AND WINE LICENCE APPLICATION
MR. LOVICK: My question is to the ever-deferential Premier. Yesterday officials at the liquor control and licensing board expressed surprise that a beer and wine store could be built during the moratorium on granting new licences. The store at 57th Avenue and Knight Road built by Peter Toigo is now ready to open, under new ownership, on the same day the moratorium is lifted. The question is this: can the Premier explain how and why Mr. Toigo was able to proceed with this project if, as the liquor control officials inform us, there was no hint given that the moratorium would be lifted? Can the Premier explain that?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: I too heard about this for the first time on television. It's not our area of research, but certainly obviously it is for the opposition. In any event, I too for the first time saw this. I didn't know what the building, or where the building, or what it was all about, so I'll defer to the Minister of Labour and Consumer Services.
HON. L. HANSON: The opposition should address its questions in a different manner, it appears. In any case, I know what you are referring to. The application was originally made on September 8 for a neighbourhood pub at that site. It was not made by Mr. Toigo. On September 18, 1986, a report was received by the local liquor inspector, and on November 12, in correspondence again with the applicant — whose name was McRobbie, by the way — there was no mention at any time of a cold wine and beer store, but there was mention of a neighbourhood pub.
On February 25, 1987, the Vancouver Council, Neighbourhood Cultural and Community Services, approved that zoning location. The owner of the pub, as required in the licensing process, has to be stated. There is one individual stated on it and it is not Mr. Toigo. There is 100 percent interest on it. There is a letter in the file in the application from Whitbury Holdings, a company of Mr. Toigo’s, which lays out a lease arrangement with the applicant for a longterm lease — the rates and the square footage involved. Further to that, a licence was finally granted to the operator and the plans were approved. The plans that came into the liquor ministry included a space for a wine and beer store.
The ministry staff members approved the plans as they related to the neighbourhood pub but pointed out in a communication to the applicant that they could not at any time agree to or approve the plans for the licensed wine store because there was a moratorium on licensee retail wine and beer stores.
The applicant chose on her volition to go ahead and have the building built with the wine and beer store in it on the chance that she may be able to get a licence at a later date. Since the moratorium, the qualifications for a licence have been raised and will require her to get a further approval from the municipality involved. They'll also require her to get a further approval from the neighbourhood through the referendum, provided that the question of the wine and beer store was not asked on the original referendum. Following all of those steps and those approvals, that lady will be able to get a wine and beer store licence.
GRAPE GROWING INDUSTRY
MR. HARCOURT: I'd like to ask the Premier what the budget is for the program to help the grape growers. This is the program that the Premier announced spontaneously on Monday. Where is that budget, since there's no provision in the current estimates?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: We've been working on the policy for some months, and the Ministry of Labour and Consumer Services, along with Agriculture, has been consulting with the cooperative and the marketing board and others in the Okanagan. The policy has also been discussed with the federal government. Of course, they're considering this in light of the GATT ruling as well as free trade and how it affects not only British Columbia but other provinces. We've certainly seen some considerable pressure, some by members of the New Democratic Party in Parliament, which created some anxiety in the Okanagan community and certainly caused people to wonder about future financing of their operations.
Because of all of this, we certainly were encouraged, especially by the marketing board representing the Okanagan grape growers, to announce the policy even if all the financial
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negotiations with the federal government had not been completed. So the policy was announced; it was extremely well received in the Okanagan by the grape growers, who are once again aware that in all areas of business and agriculture, Social Credit has a history of dealing fairly with these groups and individuals, and they're very happy with it. We continue negotiations with the federal government on the dollar amount, but I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that we do have money provided in the budget for, if and what the share required by the provincial government is.
MR. HARCOURT: Your minister was certainly surprised by your announcement and so was the federal government, because as of this morning the federal government has not even received details of the Premier's proposal. Has the Premier's office sent details to the federal negotiators, or was his statement on Monday just so much style with nothing of substance to back it up?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: The problem with the Leader of the Opposition is that he believes he can communicate with Nelson Riis and Ed Broadbent and expect to find out what the government in Ottawa or the province of British Columbia is doing.
MR. ROSE: On a point of order, I think once again we've seen the rules of question period offended. We've tried to keep our questions very short today, but today, as in the past, we're treated to lengthy answers that are really more suitable to a ministerial statement than they are to question period.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: If you review the question period questions and the answers, Mr. Speaker, you will note that one question was posed with respect to a liquor licence application. I would suspect that any member of the Legislative Assembly in the province of British Columbia would know that the application process is extremely extensive. Therefore if one is questioning that process, one should be aware that there is going to be an extensive answer and should be directed to in fact make that an order-paper question as opposed to one that takes up the time of question period.
Hon. Mr. Savage tabled the annual report of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for 1986-87.
Orders of the Day
HON. MR. STRACHAN: Committee of Supply, Mr. Speaker.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Pelton in the chair.
ESTIMATES: MINISTRY OF
TOURISM, RECREATION AND CULTURE
On vote 65: minister's office, $243,459.
HON. MR. REID: I want to especially thank all British Columbians for being such super hosts and, as well, for taking such obvious pride in their cultural heritage and recreational resources, along with all of our "super, natural" British Columbia products. Results in 1987 have provided the ministry with the momentum for an equally spectacular 1988. Part of this was fallout from Expo 86; but it's a fact that B.C.'s reputation as an outstanding destination has been accelerating over the last many years.
My ministry's new mandate, which now includes cultural and historical resources, puts us in an excellent position in the competition for worldwide products. Our sales pitches can now be more electrifying than ever.
Tourism is now the second-largest revenue-generating industry, and everyone in this House has a responsibility to maintain its integrity and accelerate that performance record. The most important feature of tourism is how its economic benefits flow through so that many sectors of the province are benefiting. As we diversify our products, it becomes more of a year-round activity. Tourism revenues reached nearly $3.1 billion last year, down just over $200 million from our record-breaking 1986 Expo year.
While 11.6 million travelled for one or more nights into British Columbia, taking in the excursionists — people who travelled more than 50 kilometres from home, but not overnight — the figure reached 16.7 million. Here's the breakdown of what our visitors spent. British Columbians travelling in their own province spent $1.2 billion. Canadians from other provinces and territories spent $773.3 million. Americans spent $628 million. Overseas visitors, primarily from Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and Hong Kong, spent $466 million in British Columbia. Of every tourist dollar spent in B.C. between June and October last year, 17 cents went to transportation, 20 cents went to restaurant meals, 27 cents went to accommodation and 14 cents went on shopping and souvenirs, citing only the main spending choices of our visitors.
If more attention is paid to detail, one sees money redistributed within the ministry. Development has a substantial increase because we are paying more attention to industry issues. As well, marketing of government-owned attractions has moved out of the marketing division, which instead will be focusing on selling all of British Columbia as a destination. Marketing our attractions, while naturally tying in with the larger picture in the future, must have its own rationale. We welcome much more analytical, rational and serious thought on the subject of marketing.
This fiscal year we are going to examine issues in a qualitative rather than a quantitative manner. In addition to such direction on the tourism side, we are accumulating very impressive qualitative insights into the ministry's other activities. For example, three task force reports are now in hand: the Project Pride review of our heritage resources, the New Approaches task force report on public library systems and the Artsreach analysis of our initiatives in the arts.
We must strive for more social and economic impact for our cultural, recreational and heritage conservation programs. The spending proposals in these areas reveal a strong commitment by this government to enhancing Super, Natural British Columbia, especially for those who live here in British Columbia.
As the minister responsible for tourism, recreation and culture, we're proud to present to this House the estimates for the coming year 1988-89.
MS. EDWARDS: First of all, I'd like to welcome to the House the deputy minister and the other senior administrator. I'm very happy to hear the minister talking about successes in tourism because of the importance and the significance that
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so many of us in British Columbia think the tourism industry should have. The minister is certainly able to say the tourism industry is second in British Columbia when measured as gross domestic product. That's very true. It's a huge industry. It has great potential to be even better. What I think we have to look at, however, is whether or not it's going to achieve that kind of success and future expectation that we all have laid upon it.
Instead of that, what one seems to see when one reviews what this government has done is a continuing dissipation and dispersal and dismissing of the ministry's activities in the areas of what's going on in the industry. The marketing budget, which the minister says is going to be looked at with a great deal more of a rationale, has been chopped by one third. That's interesting, because the minister said in last year's estimates that the mandate of the ministry was to promote and to encourage, to encourage and to promote. "We want to tell everyone about British Columbia," he said. It goes on and on. The ministry and the minister himself have said for months and months — and for even longer in some cases — that the major part of what the ministry was doing was to be promotion, and told of examples where promotion has created the kind of response that we need in this province, the kinds of attractions and events that make the tourism industry so valuable and put it where it should be. We continue to market and promote the product, the minister says, but when it comes down to the budget, it's not there.
Another thing that I think is missing is any kind of recognition of the real value of this industry in the sense of how it operates as an industry. Perhaps I'm laying too much of my reading on the minister's statements, but sometimes he doesn't seem to recognize what kind of an economic generator this industry can be, how ubiquitous it is — that means it exists all over the province — and how it provides these extremely excellent labour entry points. I say he doesn't recognize it, not because he hasn't said those things — he has said them on a number of occasions — but because he and his ministry have not put forward any proposals to lay out exactly how that industry operates and what the measure of it is within the other industrial activity of this province. Besides that, in too many cases there has been no particular advocacy of the industry. The ministry was a sort of backward, foot-dragging cousin coming into the establishment of South Moresby Park. When there have been privatization moves that would obviously work against the good tourism industry that we have, the minister has not spoken out or said anything to be the advocate on behalf of the people who want the industry to thrive and flourish in this province.
We have been talking about admission fees, and we will talk about admission fees again, Mr. Minister. Certainly those fees are not something that you have been able to demonstrate contribute to an increased enjoyment or an increased attendance for the tourism industry in this province.
The employment programs that supported and helped the tourist industry have been wiped out. They're gone. And we see no evidence of any advocacy on the part of this minister. Lake Koocanusa, to get specific, is one example of what's going to happen with drought this summer and the effect it's going to have on the tourism industry, and where is he speaking out on that?
The value of the arts, heritage and culture: evidently a study was promised during the discussion of last year's estimates. I don't know where it is. I don't know whether we're going to get it or not. The minister mentions three task forces that he had throughout the province in the past year; what's coming out of them? Exactly what is happening? Where are the results going to be on that?
In fact, one begins to wonder sometimes, because of the way things are happening, whether this minister believes in the kind of attitude put forward by Mr. Walter Block, who has written and suggested that tourism ministries are not important. Is the minister working toward a withering away of this particular ministry, perhaps a withering away of the state? Is he trying to do what every good committee does: to make himself absolutely unnecessary? If that's the case, I suspect there are a lot of other people in this province who have something different to say.
Those concerns are what I want to talk about in these estimates. I would like first of all to ask the minister if in fact those figures he was just bringing up — how many visitors we had from home, how many from the United States, and how many from overseas — are from his newest study, "Visitor '87." If so, is that study going to be available? It has been promised, and I haven't had any evidence of it. Is that where those figures come from?
HON. MR. REID: First, Mr. Speaker, if I may have the courtesy, I would like to introduce my staff who have arrived, inasmuch as we got off to a running start. My deputy minister, Grayden Hayward, is to my left; Assistant Deputy Minister Jim Doswell is to my right; and my assistant deputy minister in marketing, Mr. Ad van Haaften, is also in the chamber.
In answer to the member's question, the final compilation of "Visitor '87" has just been completed, and the document has only been available in its total form for a week. You should now have it on your desk; if you haven't got it on your desk, then it must be somewhere in your files. A copy of "Visitor '87" was forwarded to you. It's certainly available to you and to every other tourism component in the province.
It's very exciting news, and those numbers that I gave you earlier were compiled from it. It is more evidence of this ministry's aggressive research, aggressive marketing, aggressive promotion, and aggressive compiling of information — the best in North America — about what happens in B.C., both with our visitors and while they're here. When they leave, they leave with that information. As a matter of fact, the federal government is currently asking us for details of that report, it's so comprehensive.
Very significant to the nine regions around the province.... It's giving us a whole new focus on where to direct our marketing, what our marketing potential is in some of the areas — according to visitors who have been here — and what components of our tourism infrastructure visitors want to see the most. The research is so advanced. I'm sorry you don't have the copy. The copy you will be receiving includes all nine regions and compiles all the details out of it, and it certainly should be in the hands of every interested tourism spokesperson in the province.
In answer to a couple of your other questions.... I take exception to your reference to this minister having no recognition of the industry as an economic generator. There's no question that whenever I make any public appearance on behalf of this government.... Either that side or this side — collectively — I can tell you that one thing I am adamant about is convincing the public just how important the tourism industry is. It's the second-biggest industry in the province
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and is destined to be number one if we all work together toward the industry called tourism. So to say that I have no concern for economic generation and the potential it has is ludicrous.
"Not to be an advocate of the industry" — I won't even comment on that one.
"Playing a backseat role to South Moresby" — I can tell you that I have two of my staff meeting on a regular basis with the federal government, trying to get them to make the final commitment as to what's going to happen on South Moresby, when the park will be a reality, and when we can work together with our tourism industry in promoting that as a visitation site. It cannot be promoted as that at the moment because the feds haven't finally determined all the ramifications around South Moresby.
It's an exciting project, and my initial reaction prior to the federal government determining that it would be a federal park was that we have so many other products around the province that are available and are marketable that we had some other communities to look after. Now that we have another one to add once it's completely recognized by the federal government, I can tell you without question that my staff are excited about the opportunity and so am I, for what South Moresby has to offer when an infrastructure is provided for the people who visit there.... There isn't at the moment, and it's ludicrous of us to go out and promote a product that doesn't have any amenities to service the public you want to invite.
On admission fees, I've made the case so often before. It was one of the smartest moves that we've made since I've been in the ministry, and I won't comment on it any further, because you know my feeling on it.
The employment program which was deleted in 1988 — the JobTrac program — was one which was discussed by cabinet and offered up in 1987 to create some employment for an unemployment level which was unacceptable in B.C. The program was put in place and, without question, was the most exciting project in B.C., the most adventurous and productive that I think I've ever been involved with. But the Treasury Board saw fit to allocate the funds in 1988 to some other purposes. I can honestly say that I will continue to advocate that that program should have been continued, and if I could win an argument somewhere, if there were funds found, I would advocate that it be put back in place. There's no question about that.
Lake Koocanusa from up in your region. I don't know what you want this minister to do about raising the level of that lake. I do everything else around the province to do with culture, heritage and tourism. I've talked to all and sundry and made the case to the Minister of Environment (Hon. Mr. Strachan) and to the Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Parker) on the concerns we have for the tourism infrastructure in and around there and the kind of dilemma that area has relative to the level of the water. Short of going down to the United States and getting the Bonneville Dam people to not drain the water off and drain any power out of there, I don't know what you want this minister to do. I'd be happy to do something positive if you can give me a positive direction on what to do that could be endorsed by other people. I can't make it rain. I can do everything else, but I'm not a rainmaker. I'd sure like to be able to do that, because I'm qualified in doing just about everything else to do with tourism — but I can't make rain.
HON. MR. REID: Oh, is he? Okay, I'll talk to Keith Davey; fair enough.
The one issue that I wanted to relate to the member in case she is not aware of the impact of it: the shuffle of marketing funds in 1988 was instituted by a brand-new process which we've put in place, the 800 number. I can tell you that that new 800 number is not just an 800 phone number like most other organizations in other provinces have in place. Ours is more sophisticated than that. As always, we do things bigger and better than anybody else, and this is another case. We've put in an 800 number which has ten travel counsellors who answer the phone calls on an ongoing basis. We're getting on average right now 600 calls a day, which are directed to a travel counsellor. They talk to a possible customer-visitor for in the range of two and a half minutes per call, talking about what generated the call, what interests they have in the product called British Columbia, what area they may have some interest in visiting, and what ad they read in order to get the phone number to generate their interest. Then the fulfilment pieces which we then send to those people to attract them to the products that they only saw a simple ad on and to further interest them in going into the Kootenays, the Rocky Mountain area and the North-by-Northwest is without exception the finest research and marketing program that any venue in North America has, and we are proud of that one.
MS. EDWARDS: I want to first of all make some positive suggestions. We actually have rainmakers in my own riding and I've had them make offers, so that part of it I can take care of, thank you very much.
The point that I wanted to make and have been trying to make and have been saying to this government over and over again is the whole business of the reservoirs. You keep saying: it depends only on what BPA wants. The Bonneville Power Authority, you seem to say, is determining what kinds of lakes we're going to have in British Columbia. It doesn't seem to me that you are recognizing very clearly that the BPA, through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, decides how much water will be drawn down out of those reservoirs. They decide in concert with the Canadian entity, which is B.C. Hydro. This government has input with B.C. Hydro into how much drawdown is allowed on those reservoirs. What happened this summer indicated something that evidently we didn't know before: there were all sorts of clauses to deal with floods; there were no clauses to deal with drought.
I want the minister to insist that within his own government there be some mechanism put in place so that government ministries that deal with the recreational value of those particular reservoirs are notified ahead of time by B.C. Hydro, which is the entity that controls Columbia River Treaty reservoirs. I want some kind of mechanism that is ongoing and that works, in order to tell the ministries that have some interest in the recreational value of those reservoirs that they can do something ahead of time or know that they're going to be able to do something.
I also want — and this is something that's happening right now with our U.S. neighbours who are making representations on a regular basis and are meeting with one of their senators tomorrow night; I've been asked to make some suggestions to some of the residents there, because they're making exactly the same representations — both countries to recognize the recreational value of those reservoirs.
When the Columbia River Treaty began, it was considered that there was only power generation and some flood
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control and a few other scattered functions. However, the actual creation of the reservoirs was sold to the people of both countries on the basis that there would be major recreational values. If those recreational values are being hurt, and if the reservoirs do not provide recreational value, I think it's time that you, as minister, and other people interested in the recreational value of these reservoirs, made a point within government and started making a point to B.C. Hydro, the entity within Canada that decides how much drawdown there can be, when it can be and for what reason...what priority the recreational use of those reservoirs has vis-à-vis power generation and flood control. I'd certainly be interested to have your response to that.
MR. ROSE: This is really on the same subject. I have not discussed it with the critic, but it appears to me that if you can't convince B.C. Hydro of the process suggested by my colleague, there might be a possibility for a reference to the International Joint Commission under the Boundary Waters act. Since that's a federal thing, it could probably take that route, as did the Skagit Valley question of five or six years ago. I just put that forward as a possible suggestion.
HON. MR. REID: I think we dealt a year ago with the question about the International Joint Commission; we had to deal with the question of the levels of the water in the drain just behind Waleach. I think at that time we were consulted on a regular basis because of the recreational value. I indicated before that I'd be prepared to follow it up, because of the tourism potential and the archaeological site, which comes under the other hat that I have.
I will address a letter to Hydro — I'll give you a copy — as to our concern, and will see what Hydro will do with that; also I'll send it on to the International Joint Commission for their consideration, as it reflects on the ministry's involvement.
MS. EDWARDS: May I applaud you, Mr. Minister. I'm extremely pleased with that approach. I certainly know that this will be supported internationally by the residents of the areas affected by these reservoirs. It's a great way to start.
Mr. Minister, I have some figures here that came from Pannell Kerr Forster and the ministry that have some comparisons of trends in tourism that I wanted to talk to you about, because they indicate some things that I want to discuss for a minute.
They were dealing with U.S. vehicle entries, U.S. resident entries and one-night-plus stay entries. They may be from the same source that you were talking about earlier.
I have in front of me some figures for 1985, 1986 and 1987. What they show is that U.S. vehicle entries and U.S. resident entries are both down from 1986 — which we may have expected; perhaps you did expect it after Expo 86 — and that the number of people who stayed for one or more nights was down. The overseas entries were down as well.
Because that doesn't perhaps give us the comparison that we need when we look at trends, I took some figures that started with 1985, and discovered that in 1985 the trend in visitors from the U.S. was a rise in vehicle entries instead of that fall that we noticed from 1986 to 1987. It had been a rise up to 1985. I'm not getting 1986 involved in this. I am trying to look at a trend. It showed a rise in vehicle entries, resident entries and those one-night-plus stay entries of between 7.1 percent and 7.2 percent.
If you look at 1987 and compare it to 1985, you will see that the increase is averaged out to between 12 percent and 14 percent over a two-year period, which is only 6 percent to 6.5 percent a year, which means that the trend is levelling out again. I don't know if you looked at those figures in that sense. I am just going to leave them there, and talk about the hotel occupancy rate between 1985 and 1987, which actually fell 2 percent in Vancouver.
Overseas visitors who were coming in decreasing numbers in 1985 have had an increase, and that may have been one of the major successes of Expo. There is another success I want to talk about in a minute. I want to know whether you have recognized that the rising trend has levelled off. Do you have any expectations as to why that is so? I will leave it at that.
HON. MR. REID: I am having some difficulty following the numbers. I apologize for that. One thing that the staff in my ministry is probably best at is compiling and giving factual numbers. All the numbers I have been dealing with in the last year and a half have been positive. If the increases are only in the neighbourhood of 5 percent or 6 percent, that may not seem significant to the member. When you are talking in the neighbourhood of 13 million visitors, a 5 percent or 6 percent increase is quite a significant number.
Let me give you some numbers that will tell you the kind of success story we have going. I am not sure if you are in receipt of the room rentals in 1988, which is what we're talking about in this fiscal year and this budget we're now dealing with. In allowing us to continue a momentum that we picked up in 1987, which is unheard of in the history of world fair communities to even survive a year following a world's fair without a disaster, we proved to all and sundry that we were the best at that again. We not only had a successful year but a phenomenal year. We had better than '85 in every increment you want to match. Taking out the 1986 summer component, we even bettered 1986.
The kinds of things that you should know are in the total room rental expenditures. This kind of flies in the face of the study that we just had presented to us a week or so ago by the hotel industry, because they didn't talk about the numbers which are most significant to us today, and that's 1986, 1987 and 1988.
If they talk about those numbers, let me give them to you so that you can make a note of them to tell you how significant the tourism industry is in one component, the hotel industry. In January 1985 the income in B.C. for hotel expenditures — and that's not only for hotels but it's for lodges, motels, fishing camps and guest ranches — was $21 million; in 1986 that rose to $22.7 million; and in 1987, just past, it rose to $24 million; and lo and behold, in 1988 — just the last January past — the number is now $29.5 million.
If you get into February 1985, the income for hotel expenditures in B.C., across the whole province — and I have it broken down by region — was $23.9 million. It rose to $25.7 million in February 1986. It then rose to $28.5 million last year, and this year it has risen already to $33.4 million in February.
This morning I received an up-to-date Price Waterhouse of March. March occupancy is up 56.8 percent over 1987. The breakdown on those numbers I gave you before is spread out across the whole province.
You could take any region across the province and the significant numbers of dollars in the hotel industry in 1988
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are already up in the neighbourhood of 30 percent to 40 percent across the first three months. The momentum is there. The interesting part to the province, of course, is that we collect an 8 percent room tax on all those rooms, so that increment of $5 million in the month of February alone equates to $400,000 in income to the taxpayers.
Just so that you have some idea of the numbers and what they equate to in the industry, they are very strong. The same thing is happening at border crossings. The same thing happened in '85 to '87 with the retail sales on tourism generated revenues. If you didn't research the numbers, you might not have known that we had budgeted for an income of $35 million for hotel tax in '87. Lo and behold, because of the success of the ministry, we generated $40 million, an increase of $5 million over and above the budgeted number.
Tourism revenue in 1987, as you know — you've got the number already — was up $600 million over 1985, and that momentum is continuing. U.S. visitors were up 10.4 percent. Westbound traffic through Rogers Pass was up 7.7 percent. Ferry passengers were up 10.9 percent. Accommodation in hotels and motels was up, as I pointed out earlier, almost $100 million over 1985. Restaurant sales were up 19.7 percent in '87 over '86. Overseas visitors were up 9.7 percent.
The strength of the economy of the province and the strength of the employment factor of the hospitality industry are so strong that we're setting records that no other province in Canada can even hope to keep up with. Recent indications are that because of the interest in the industry and the pride that's been developed in the industry, the employment factors projected over the next four years are an 18 percent growth. We currently employ in the neighbourhood of 400,000 employees in the industry in B.C. By 1992 we're going to employ another 64,740 — by projection. The economy, as it relates to that industry, is very strong, and British Columbia, as always, is leading Canada in relation to the income and the product called tourism.
MS. EDWARDS: Mr. Minister, your figures always sound great. What you give us are always very positive figures. Part of my question is: are you looking at some of the negative figures? Because there are some spots where we need to have some support.
HON. MR. REID: I don't have any negative numbers.
MS. EDWARDS: You don't have any negative figures. As I say, the Vancouver hotel occupancy, for example, is not....The upward trend is still there, but the trend is not as steep as it was. There are 10 percent of hotels in receivership over the past year, and those sorts of things. I want to know how the minister deals with those figures as well, and where they come from.
As I say, I'm always very pleased to see that we have had some very good figures come back. I think they're indicative of exactly what I was saying in my introduction, that this industry is going to be very strong. There are some places where it's going up faster than others, and so on and so forth, but basically, it's an industry that people in this province have identified with and that they believe is going to work. They believe, somehow, that the ministry's function in all of this is to promote British Columbia as a tourist destination.
You say that you're going to do it, but you haven't been doing it. You have now cut the budget. You cut the budget by 33⅓ percent or more. You are using the phrase now that you're going to use a more rational approach, but that's not how it's seen by all of us who have been watching very closely, including tourism associations and hotel associations. All the people in the industry are not happy with the announcement that the global promotions will be cut — $5 million off the budget for the global advertising, Super, Natural British Columbia, I assume.
What you just said makes me wonder if that is where it's going to be cut. Is the $5 million that you have taken out of the marketing of British Columbia...? I would like to know how you're going to be what you call "more rational" about this. Are you going to advertise, as you seem to have said, to promote markets within British Columbia? Or are you going to put more efforts to California and eastern Canada, which you've frequently said was where you were putting all your advertising dollars and which worked so extremely well to bring the U.S. visitors onto Vancouver Island and up to Expo and to make them continue to come after Expo?
All that, Mr. Minister, was attributed to good marketing. Now I'd like to know where you're going to do the marketing, where you're going to make cuts and what your rationale is for being more rational.
HON. MR. REID: Well, one of the most fortunate things we were able to do in our ministry in the last three years is the innovative program we put in place called Partners in Tourism. We started out in 1985 with $800,000 — in round numbers. That's the contribution to the Partners in Tourism program across B.C. In '86, it went to $3.4 million, during Expo year. Last year we put in $4.5 million. This year we're putting roughly $4 million into that program.
The program has generated more interest by the communities out there in realizing the potential of the product they've been keeping a secret to themselves. Because of the interest of the ministry and the interest of my marketing department, strengthening the focus of the product, giving a more quality production in their marketing roles, creating a world-class image on an ongoing basis, we have generated the kind of visits and the kind of income we're getting. The one thing we have gained from all that is that the private sector has come into the marketing field, marketing their products better than they ever have before.
Even though we put roughly $4.5 million into Partners in Tourism in 1987, they put in excess of $4.5 million into the program. I think they exceeded it by $2 million to $3 million by the time the year was out. The momentum that the private sector has created towards.... They are interested in marketing their products collectively; we take credit for that initiative. I think it would be beneficial to all of us, especially in government, if in the foreseeable future we could hand that all off to the private sector, where it ideally belongs.
Because of the interest we had in getting the products put together, getting to sell their products collectively, has it ever worked! With our $4.5 million, we generated a minimum of $9 million last year. This year we are going to be generating, I would think.... Partners in Tourism is going to have a total of at least $7 million in it, not including the increment the private sector will throw in on top of that.
The amounts that regions around the province got in 1987-88 — rounded off so you can write them down easily: Vancouver Island got $774,000 matching dollars; southwest B.C. and Vancouver got $1.2 million; Okanagan, $805,000 of Partners money; the Kootenays, $176,000 last year; High
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Country, $266,000 last year; Cariboo, $285,000 last year; North by Northwest, $168,000; Peace River, $41,000; B.C. Rockies, $460,000. If you understand the program, all of this is only generated by a program in place by the private sector that puts together a product that needs some embellishment, which we agree to give it — the real whammy which our ministry has the pizzazz to do.
We then come to this year's budget, just to show you, as there have been some misconceptions out there.
MR. R. FRASER: Speak slowly, please; otherwise they won't hear it.
HON. MR. REID: Oh, okay.
There are some misconceptions out there about the 1988-89 Partners in Tourism money. The fact of the matter is, Vancouver Island this year will get $610,600; southwest B.C. will get $847,400; the Okanagan, $600,000 — and that means a minimum of $1.2 million in the Okanagan because it's matching dollars. The Kootenays gets an increase from $176,000 — this one should really interest you — to $222,000, which tells us in the ministry that the tourism product and component in the Kootenays is finally coming to the party, coming to the marketing program with accelerated dollars, with a product they kept a secret forever, until we got involved. They weren't spending anywhere near those kinds of dollars in 1984 or 1985. Now look what they're doing. We're happy with that, so our contribution to your region this year is $220,000.
High Country gets $242,000 this year; the Cariboo, $222,000, matching the Kootenays — the Cariboo and the Kootenays have the same amount of Partners money this year; North by Northwest, $162,000. Peace River went from $41,000 to $101,000 because they finally got all of their people together and decided the program works. Now they're putting $101,000 into it in 1988-89. The B.C. Rockies gets $343,000 in 1988-89. That's a total of $3,350,000 — a pretty significant number; taxpayers' money to generate matching dollars for Partners in Tourism, in tourism marketing.
It's the envy of every other province. In fact, Alberta, I think, is trying to copy it. They're two years behind the times, but they're trying to copy it. So is everybody else, because it works. It got the private sector to tell their story, and all we do is help them tell it even better.
The success of marketing programs, those kinds of things, have led us now.... We can sit back and take a look at what we're doing. We can refocus our direction as the "Visitor '87" survey, which tells us in each region of the province where we should strengthen our marketing and what products will get more attention and draw more people in.... We've got that now in our hip pocket. We've got the Partners in Tourism program working very well, and we've got very aggressive regional associations doing an excellent job out there on behalf of the second largest industry in B.C.
MS. EDWARDS: Mr. Chairman, I'd like to just remind the minister that my constituency is in the Rocky Mountains — the Rockies area — and we are the greatest user of the Partners in Tourism program and have been almost from the beginning. So I know how this program works. I know that it works very well, and that everybody who has been involved in it has applauded it, and it is all the things that the minister has said about it. We have given it the embellishment that we can give it. We are the envy of every other province in this program. It works, you say.
What kind of organization or institution or entity puts that much money into something and says, "It works," and then says: "Okay, we won't do it anymore"? You've cut back from — as you say — $4.5 million last year to less than $3.5 million this year, and you're talking about sitting back and pulling out more funds from the Partners in Tourism budget.
You also have said — and I think it's very clear that you would be asked for it if you responded to everybody who wanted to participate in this program — that you could easily spend $7 million or $8 million. Those are dollars that, as you say, worked very well. They got double the punch for every buck that you spent from the province and every buck that every member of the tourism industry spends. You are saying that you are pulling back on this program.
Somebody said to me: "Do you know what Coca Cola would do if they had that kind of an investment, and it was working so well? Would they step back and stop putting the money in?"
What I also hear consistently is that for some reason or another this ministry, which has said that it's a great marketer and promoter, somehow thinks of this marketing and promotion as an expense instead of an investment. These dollars are invested dollars. What kind of return do you get on those invested dollars? That's the figure I would like to see as well, because I think those figures would be useful. I think the minister needs to do some real explaining as to why he is reducing the amount in this successful program that he himself says is particularly successful and, in fact, in an industry where the government and this minister in particular keep saying: "We want the industry to grow." You even talk about making it the number one industry in B.C., and everybody says, "Hurrah, hurrah." Instead of that, the marketing goes down and the investment goes down. Is there any reason in the world why you would not continue in this particular program which gets double the bang for every buck that's spent by everybody involved?
HON. MR. REID: When you're allocated a certain amount of money to run a ministry in a given year by the treasury, you have to go to your staff, who are the best in North America — we've proven it; we're world-class.... We know that with a certain amount of dollars.... We do research on a daily basis to get the biggest bang for the buck. If you're not paying attention, we're spending $1.2 million on the 800 number. It's research-driven, but it's fulfilment-driven. The regions around the province which currently are partnered in tourism....
We will be, on our own initiative, responding to visitors who are asking about the product in the Kootenays, in the Rocky Mountains, in North-by-Northwest and in the Queen Charlottes — you name it. Those products will be responded to directly by my ministry through the postal system with the fulfilment pieces we have available. That is not partnered. We're putting that up front in 1988, which was not available in '87, and it's $1.2 million.
It's the most advanced system of tracking tourists in North America. Because it's so advanced, I'm telling you today that our partners out there have not appreciated the impact of the 800 number and the 600 direct person-to-person phone calls we're getting daily wanting information on specific areas of B.C., where they're coming from, how long they're coming for, how much money they're going to spend and what products they want to see.
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So it's falling upon us to encourage the regions to spend money marketing North-by-Northwest, for instance, over and beyond what we've done in the last three years, if they're not certain at this point that the product that they're putting out is going to be visited by people from Dallas, Texas. We're going to be able to go back to the regions within a short period of time and say: "Now look, your focus has been on rubber tire track out of California, but our research tells us that you're going to have a lot more people coming from Quebec and Ontario. So redirect some of your marketing money back there, and we're going to redirect some of ours, and that way the product gets a better impact."
To say that we've reduced Partners in Tourism to the detriment of the industry is a socialist attitude. This government should not be funding Partners in Tourism if we don't need to. We should be able to step away from this over the next four to five years, and if we don't look at it that way, and the industry's coming up with $5 million and $6 million and $7 million more than they did two years ago, the program is a total success. And if you're getting $200 million more in income into the hotel industry this year over last year, what do you call a failure? I can't believe that you could be so negative about numbers that are so positive. Fill up the hotels, the resorts and the attractions. People are all here spending their money — somebody else's money. What else do you want?
MS. EDWARDS: I think the minister has an amazing attitude. We've been terribly successful because we have promoted this province, so we're not going to promote it anymore. That's what you are saying: be satisfied — here it is. Why should we spend any more money? We've done fine. We want to get bigger and somehow or other, all of a sudden, everything is going to happen all by itself, because this is just going to take off without that kind of investment that you've recognized.
I understand that the money that you reallocated to the 1-800 line did not come out of what might be called a $4 million allocation that originally in last year's estimates was assigned to Partners in Tourism. This year we get $3.35 million and the rest of it is directed from the ministry itself, but that does not cover the amount in that $4 million. That doesn't cover the 1-800 line.
HON. MR. REID: Yes, it does. Add it up — 3.5 and 1.2 is 4.7.
MS. EDWARDS: Okay. Then it's not in the estimates that way. I'm following the right line. However, Mr. Minister, there is a $4 million allocation in the line that I was reading, and it certainly doesn't add up to $4.5 million. I was told that out of that $4 million there was $650,000 worth of projects that would be directed from the ministry, which did not include the $1.2 million that you say is going to be spent on the 1-800 line.
The 1-800 line, as I understand, is replacing another program that your ministry is not going to do. I don't see any reason to include it in any discussion saying that it is replacing a Partners in Tourism function. As I understand it, it replaces a number of other things which may be only one and may be a number of magazine pullouts. Is that correct? If that's the case, could you give me a comparison of the usefulness of those magazine pullouts with the 1-800 line? I'm presuming you're calculating that it would be 600 calls per business day over the year. Is that correct?
HON. MR. REID: It's happening right now.
MS. EDWARDS: I would like to know what you calculate are the number of calls that you are going to have on that 1-800 line. I also am curious about the kind of surveying you are going to do. In other words, are you going to survey everybody who calls that line? Are you going to only survey a certain number of people? I understood that at one point someone said there were only a certain number of those callers who would be surveyed for what they were going to do.
One of the other things that I'm curious about is that you have said that you will move out to cover all the attractions in the province. Is that something that you are expanding right now and does not come into the function of the 800 line? Can you not cover all the attractions within the industry and the province right now? What is the expansion that you foresee?
HON. MR. REID: First of all, an explanation of the 800 number. The 800 number has 10 at a time working on the answering panels. There are 20 fully trained travel counsellors, who are trained in all the products available in British Columbia available to be seen.
Each of the travel counsellors, in identifying the customer, talks about the adventure packages: adventure package 1 is general nature adventure: adventure package 2 is saltwater packages; adventure package 3 is fresh-water fishing and river rafting; adventure number 4 is touring; 5 is touring in the islands; 6 is touring with no accommodation; 7 is skiing; 8 is student-teacher product; and number 9 is additional information required. Then that travel planner also gets into the question of what attractions they are interested in seeing, what border crossing they will be entering the province of British Columbia at, what major event they will be seeing or coming for, what the exchange rates are, what the ferry systems provide, what fishing accommodations are available and which areas of the province have different kinds of fishing available to the visitor, if that's what they're interested in. It gets into holiday destination locations, hospital and medical facilities, hunting attractions in whichever region is involved, the liquor laws and mileages between different destinations.
If they're only coming for two or three days, the travel planner will know not to tell them to try to go to Skidegate, Queen Charlottes, because they just can't get there by rubber-tire traffic in three days. It would know to say: "If you're planning to go there, don't do it this trip; or if you are, you need six days." That's the travel counsellor's position. That's the kind of information given out over the two-and-a-half minute response.
It also talks about the parks in the province — both RV parks and provincial and federal parks — where the major cities are, what distances they are, postal rates and postal information. That's how detailed the answer to each call is, and it's computer recorded the minute the call comes in. First of all they find out where the call is coming from. If it's from Dallas, Texas, the respondent then automatically says: "You're calling from Dallas. How did you get the phone number? What are you interested in? How long are you staying? Who are you bringing with you? How many are in your party? What kind of money do you spend? What kind of attractions do you want to see?" All that is recorded and researched as the number is answered.
The important thing to know is that from April 18 when it started to just yesterday, we have had 14,773 calls all
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answered in the same manner that I've just described to you. The interesting thing is that we also know exactly the location it comes from and whether it's Canadian or American. The 800 number does not apply in British Columbia, so we're talking outside B.C. in Canada and the United States. Of the current numbers, they're running on average 600 a day, and they're running, for instance, 358 from the U.S. to 138 from Canada; 354 from the U.S. to 107 from Canada; 427 from the U.S. to 233 from Canada. So the percentages are running about 3 to 1 or 4 to 1. They're averaging 2.3 minutes per call at the moment.
The interesting thing, Madam Member, is the increase in the usage of this number, and the advertisement's only been out since April 1. For the first 18 days the number wasn't in place; it's only been in place since April 18. The number has increased from 164 a day to 600 a day, and it's growing. Each call is responded to personally and directly.
In answer to your other question, we were not aware when we started this number how successful it was going to be and how interested people were going to be in some of the products available. Now my ministry's postal response will be to provide not only a map of British Columbia and the area they want to see and general information, but if it happens to be in the Rocky Mountain area or in the Cariboo, we will be providing in the kit, as an automatic fulfilment, the Gold Rush Trail package and the Fort Steele package so that the person can read about Fort Steele and some of the other attractions in and around the Rocky Mountains and the Kootenays.
That's the advantage we have now that it's area-specific. If people are coming in from Spokane and going into only the Rocky Mountain area, there's no point in us spending X number of.... We spend $2 million a year on publications. We're going to run out this year because of the interest in the product. So we're going to have to go after further funds for publications, only because of the success of this number already.
As this number generates further interest in these products, they're going to be area-specific. How innovative for a province to have area-specific responses and fulfilment packages! You used to pull the old one out of a magazine — which was your other question — and say: "My name is Anne Edwards. I live in Fernie, B.C. Please send me all the tourism stuff you've got for B.C." So we'd send out a big, brown envelope and it covered everything from the Yukon Territory all the way down to the Rocky Mountains and all the way over to the south tip of Vancouver Island, without knowing what the people particularly wanted to see. We'd send out three or four pieces of fulfilment material, which probably some would throw away.
We're now specific. We know what they want to see. We know how long they're coming for. We know, in general, how much money they're going to spend. We know what kind of visitors they are because our '87 survey told us on average how many are going to be in each car and how much they're going to spend — $54 a day, $131 per carload. Those are the things we know now. We know that if they're going to spend 5 or 6 days here, we can tell you in advance how much money we're going to generate, by and large, in the province and how many visitors are going to come. We'll tell you by June how many are going to be here. That's the kind of information we have available.
That's why we say we're quantitative now in the direction of our marketing money. Because the Health minister (Hon. Mr. Dueck) needed more money for some of his programs this year, I wasn't able to win my argument because the momentum is so strong. But the other reason I didn't have to win the argument is that we've got over $10 million in total to market the products in British Columbia this year, and because of that we're going to be innovative. The 800 number, Partners in Tourism and everything is going to continue this momentum, so we're still going to be number one in Canada in increases in tourism.
MS. EDWARDS: It almost seems out of place for me to applaud you for something. I'm not complaining about the 800 line per se, Mr. Minister, and what you say indicates to me that it's quite different than what I originally thought — if in fact $1.2 million is the ultimate cost of this whole program. Is that the ultimate cost, or is that simply the cost of the personnel? Does it include the cost of response, postage, materials, personnel, renting the phone line, office expenses — even to get down to those sorts of things? If that's the case, what you're saying to me, I assume, is that it will cost approximately $8 per phone call.
HON. MR. REID: The estimated number of calls we're going to get now as a result of the success we've had in the last two or three weeks is in excess of 180,000 direct response calls, if the continual momentum stays there. The total cost of the program was estimated to be $1.2 million, I think, predicted on around 150,000 to 160,000 calls. If the calls are beyond that number, the 800 number must be paid per call. So the $1.2 million number will not be sufficient, but it's not capped unless we want to pull the plug in November and December, and we won't be doing that.
What I am saying to you is that we currently have allocated sufficient money to cover the total program, which included the training, the computer programming, the 800 number rentals, contingencies for the staff component, and training films that are needed.
The year one has some non-recurring capital costs of $250,000. In other words, in the first year the equipment, the programming and the components put in place on the screens for the girls — and boys — to use.... We hire both.
HON. MR. REID: Excellent.
Because of the program we put in place, we've already had to modify it a little, because there is interest beyond the scope we provided the system as a result of our '87 survey. The capital cost — which is some of the equipment and programming — is non-recurring, so we're looking at probably a million dollars next year, not counting the incremental gains I am sure we are going to be faced with with the extra calls and extra fulfilment of material.
What we will be able to do now as a result of this.... We're only six weeks into it, so you're going to have to give us a little breathing-room when being critical of the amount of material we're going to provide to the customer, because we may be in the predicament of having to ask some of the regions who have more adequate fulfilment pieces to do with their specific attraction that we can provide on a mail-out to the customers that are calling in.
MS. EDWARDS: Mr. Minister, I am curious about a couple of things. There is a list of questions that occurred to me as you were talking.
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What is the source of the information that you have? I say that not, you know . . . . Is it the members of the industry who necessarily advertise in one of your publications, or does it come from the travel regions, the travel associations? What I am saying is: how does the poor guy who runs a bumper car operation at Yahk get on . . . . You may not get this detailed; it may be a poor example. What I'm saying is: what about the small operator in the interior of the province who doesn't always advertise a whole lot? How does he get into this? Does your information cover a very broad range of the industry participants?
I want to know whether you feel very strongly that the whole industry is represented in this information — or is there a sort of screen that keeps some of them out, which might be simply an advertising amount or something?
I am interested to know if the men and women who are now operating this phone number are new employees, or were they moved from somewhere else? I am interested in knowing whether you would be able — because it is a highly technological thing — to decentralize this and use employees in other parts of the province instead of having them all sitting perhaps at one particular place.
You say the amount of money that you spend on this program will not be capped this year. Are you expecting that to go on? What is your projection as to what is going to happen, and what kind of evaluation measures are you going to use to see whether the program works better that some other sorts of measures?
[Mr. Rabbitt in the chair.]
HON. MR. REID: The difficulty we're having with the 800 number is that like everything else my ministry has done since I've been the minister, it's too successful. This is another example of it. In general terms, in answer to your question, we cannot be too product-specific unless it's one that we continue to market on our own. If it's one that we run, then my ministry staff talk to each other daily and show internal staff what the product is doing and what's happening out there. If you're talking about the bumper cars in Nelson or the museum in Kaslo or whatever, at this point we had not anticipated the response we're getting. I think it's going to be incumbent on us, on an ongoing basis, to bring in . . . .
Let me just backtrack for a second. You asked about employees. The employees are all working for Canadian Facts, the company we contracted with for a specified service, with specific training requirements and the kind of response personnel that we wanted them to have on staff. So they're not Ministry of Tourism, Recreation and Culture staff, they are staff of Canadian Facts. They are currently located around 1100 West Pender, fifth, sixth floor. The phone-bank system that was put in has to be, by virtue of the design and process, I think, within the confines of one building. That building does not have to be at West Pender. If you can win the argument with Canadian Facts to relocate their facility in downtown Cranbrook, I wouldn't have any argument there. All we want is the information that's generated, and we want the material supplied immediately. Whether or not the facility is physically located there is no requirement of ours. We just need them to be able to provide the material, the instant response, the computer update as to what's happening, the daily response to the calls — where they're coming from and those kinds of things.
One of the things we've run into with this is that it's given us a broader range of possibilities for providing more specific detail about particular products. I'm thinking out loud here, but I'm trying to answer your question so that you know how exciting the 800 number is and what it's doing for us as a government. It's giving us a whole new opportunity of addressing the customer firsthand and getting the material almost instantaneously, which we've never been able to do before. It's also giving us an opportunity to talk to the product providers — a regional association, a local product such as the bumper car people. Somewhere down the line we are going to have to work on a partnership deal where those people can buy into the system. If they want to be part of the system, we'll say to them, "We're getting ten calls a day on bumper cars in Nelson" — or the streetcar or whatever. "You'd better give us some up-to-date material so that we can provide it in the kit." It won't be up to the government to provide it if they're talking about product-specific. But that's down the road a little.
As I said to you before, the number is so successful at the moment that we've really been caught off guard. We thought we'd be able to research this as we went along, train the staff a little bit more on other products. I don't know if we're going to have time to keep bringing the Canadian Facts staff up to date on other products that they're not even aware of at the moment. That's the weakness in it. I don't know if we have the time to do that. It has just been too successful.
MRS. BOONE: I have an interesting newsletter here from the Alexander Mackenzie Trail Association that has to do with a 1982 federal-provincial agreement for a trail that was developed. There's only one applicable trail, and it goes between the Cariboo from the Blackwater Road down to Bella Coola. There's no usable field directions to get to this eastern trail end from either Prince George or Quesnel. At the same time, there are some 15,000 brochures in circulation inviting people to explore the day trails at the east and west trailheads. Apparently there's a full-colour all-over Mackenzie Trail brochure at the printers for major distribution this spring.
The directors, who are partners with the government in this heritage and tourist attraction, are distressed that we continue to promote the Mackenzie Trail as a draw to the Cariboo and Chilcotin when an on-site highway and community program is not ready. These are the concerns expressed by this association. In addition, there is considerable concern because the agreement that was reached in 1985, and signed by the federal and provincial ministers, allocated funds for the interpretation of the program at highway sites and in local museum and tourist sites from Prince George to Bella Coola, but Parks Canada's 50 percent share of this funding has for three years been sent back to the federal treasury because B.C.'s matching shares were not provided. I'd like to ask the minister what kind of promotion that is for the Cariboo Chilcotin-Prince George area, and why we're sending back federal money because we won't match it at the provincial end.
HON. MR. SAVAGE: Mr. Chairman, I ask leave to make introductions.
HON. MR. SAVAGE: I'm indeed pleased to rise in the assembly today to introduce several members of Delta council who are here to meet with the Ministry of Transportation and Highways. Would this assembly make them welcome.
[ Page 4258 ]
HON. MR. REID: Mr. Chairman, before I answer the questions from the other member, I want to say a very special welcome to those people from Delta, the community in which I cut my teeth in the political arena. A couple of them sitting in the audience up there helped me get where I am today. I hope that I'm doing them justice.
We welcome them to Victoria, and we hope you are successful with your plea today. As you know, I was there at the council chamber in Delta in 1978, when we put the money to cover half the cost of upgrading Scott Road in the pot. We hope the other partners help you reach that goal, so that tourists travelling back and forth on Scott Road, in and out of Surrey and into White Rock and the Crescent Beach area, have a chance to access the Annacis crossing, which you people had so much involvement with.
I commend that council and all the people in Delta for their foresight, for all the activities happening in tourism, recreation and culture in your community. Thanks for being here today.
Back to the estimates and the question of the Mackenzie Trail. If the member is not aware, it was this minister who finally accelerated the definition and the actual designation of the Alexander Mackenzie Trail from the Cariboo to Bella Coola — and was excited about that. I was not aware until you raised it — and my deputy tells me he found out this morning — of the program you're talking about, the federal-provincial funding towards the Alexander Mackenzie Trail.
Let me give you my assurance today that we will be meeting within days — my deputy with the deputies from Environment and Parks and from Forests and Lands — to discuss the acceleration of that particular product. There's no question in my mind that if the brochures are being made by the community up there . . . . If they're starting to talk about a product they want to market and promote, we have to be ready. Normally we're ahead of most communities. This is one product which I thought we were up to speed with. If we're not, I give you the assurance that working together with those other two ministries, we will not leave the brochures in that community out to dry. If there were federal funds sent out here that I had any right to spend.... I will give you this assurance: they would never have got back to Ottawa, because I would have made certain they were disbursed in that manner. That will never happen again. That product will get the attention it deserves from this ministry; and on behalf of our ministry and your community, we will press on with Environment and Parks and Forests and Lands towards that.
MRS. BOONE: I thank the minister for that assurance. I'm sure the residents in both Cariboo and Chilcotin and in my community will look forward to this. As you know, in our areas we depend a great deal on the outdoors, and a tremendous amount on trails and lakes and fishing and all those things. It's really distressing to see federal money being sent back and no promotion at that end.
On another note, these people have indicated — I'm not sure whether this would be through your ministry or through Parks — that they don't even know if the grant-in-aid for their work as a cooperating society on the Mackenzie Trail is available. They have a tremendous number of volunteers that work each year. "The annual budget costs for our services exceed our membership fees and other earnings by $3,000." Directors, volunteers, etc., do all their work free, and do all their travel at no expense at all. But they do have some bookkeeping expenses, and they're really concerned that they as a society — that is, the Alexander Mackenzie Trail Association — will not be receiving a grant in order for them to exist to do the promotional work that they do. Apparently they have been in contact with the ministry and have been negotiating with them. They've written to the ministry. A final paragraph says: "We submit that this kind of privatization" — and this should be a word that the minister would perk up at — "by our volunteers is a pretty good bargain for the people of B.C."
I certainly agree that if these people are doing the promotional business out there, if they are working to promote our area, and if, as they state here, they are privatizing those areas and working at no expense, then the government should certainly look to fund this organization so that they can provide the services out there. They are a good organization, and one that serves a very large area. So I would ask the minister to look into this and give me assurances again, as he did, that the money would not be returned and that there would be some funding out there to provide the highway sites. The concern that this association has is that the brochures are out there telling people to come to this trail, to travel our trail, and yet there's no highway information telling them how to get there or any information at the areas there.
I'd like assurances from the minister that he will give personal consideration to giving some funding to this organization so they can exist and work on behalf of the communities, and also that you will work with the Highways people to put the highway signs and whatever's necessary out there to indicate that the trail exists.
HON. MR. REID: Madam Member, the last question first, about the signage. I don't know if you're aware that just last Monday the Highways minister and I were at Alexandra Bridge — no relation to your area, because it's quite a bit further south. But we did unveil, last Monday, the very first of the Gold Rush Trail signage, which indicates the highway from Hope right through to Prince George as the specific highway which will embellish the Gold Rush Trail production that we put out last year. We indicated all those neat things along the way that are attractions up to your area.
The question about the Alexander Mackenzie Trail Society receiving funds from my ministry. I don't have an avenue in which to do that, but we do work with the regional associations, and, if they have funds, advise them that they should make them available to certain societies that are doing things, as you say, on a volunteer basis in order to complement a product and draw people into the area. So it's incumbent upon the private sector up there to help them with those funds they need. My ministry doesn't have money for that.
MRS. BOONE: I guess they have in the past, and I'm not sure where they would get their money from for these types of things. They talk about a grant-in-aid for working as a cooperating society. Perhaps it's a grant through lotteries; perhaps it's a grant through something else. They also talk about some JobTrac programs that they had available. Will there be JobTrac programs available this year for these people?
HON. MR. REID: There isn't a program called JobTrac as such. There is, under the Ministry of Social Services and Housing, a program coming back on stream in 1988 of which
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we will get part of the component called the tourism assistance program. It's called "Tourism Civic Pride," and it will be similar to what we had in JobTrac. It relates directly to our ministry's involvement. The project hasn't been fine-tuned, and the regulations and applications haven't been completed yet, but it will be available. I don't know the total dollars involved, but it is a similar project to Community Pride, which we had last year, although it's not exactly the same.
In answer to your question, as long as it has a Tourism component to it — which is what you're talking about — I would perceive that it would be eligible to apply to that. So you just keep an eye on your desk, and when you see a news release come out from that minister on the subject, I'd be happy to talk to you about it.
MRS. BOONE: Do you have a date when this will be ready? Because we are getting into the tourist season here. Fishing areas have started, and this is the time when people start to open up. People have to make plans, and they have to know how they're going to staff and if they're going to be able to have anybody. Do you have a date when this information will be available?
HON. MR. REID: Unfortunately, I cannot be specific about when it will be available, but my advice to you would be to contact your organization, have them write a letter through you to me, and we'll put it on top of the list of considerations for projects. If it qualifies under the regulations when they come down, we will certainly deal with it right away. It's in the chute. I can't give you the details because it's not out of my ministry, but I have been talking to the minister responsible and he tells me it's very close to being finalized.
I don't want to leave you hanging, but I will say to you to get the request in for them, knowing the constraints that used to be on the JobTrac program and having a similar application. It's people on social assistance in the area who are looking for jobs and training in order to generate out into the job market. It's similar to that, and because I can't be too specific, to encourage you about it, please have them send in an application through you about what they have in mind, and then when it comes through, if it doesn't quite qualify, you and I can talk and you can get back to them and get them to fine-tune it.
MRS. BOONE: On a slightly different note on hotels and the hotel business. I recently met with members from my hotel association, and they were expressing considerable distress about what was happening to them. A large percentage of our hotels have been in receivership in the past few years. We are not similar to hotels in the lower mainland. We do not have a tremendous amount of tourism or convention business, or any of those things, coming to our area. In fact, the hotels provide accommodation but to a large extent they depend on sales of alcohol to keep themselves afloat.
They expressed considerable problems with regard to the 10 percent tax that has come down on draft beer, and given that there was previously a raise in the licence from $150 to $ 1,000, and removal of a 5 percent tax, this 10 percent tax is really causing them a hardship. I was wondering if the Minister of Tourism has consulted with the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Couvelier) about the problems the hotels will be having in the smaller communities, because they are just not going to be able to stay in the black, given this 10 percent tax. Has the minister consulted with the Minister of Finance about this tax that has gone on the industry?
HON. MR. REID: Yes, I have discussed it with the Minister of Finance. Up until last week, the numbers that the hotel industry provided to me and to my ministry certainly weren't the most current ones. They were dealing with up to 1985, which is unfortunate because we all went through some difficult years between '81 and '85 in every industry in B.C., including this government which brought in the restraint program in '83 because of the concerns with the economy. But since '85 there has been quite an upturn. I have some numbers for your particular region that indicate. . . . Not to show unconcern for your people; some of the people in the hotel industry are in dire straits. They also had to refinance some of those hotels back in the tough years, in 1981 to 1985, and had to get up into the 20 percent refinancing stages, which has created some major problems.
The positive thing is that your industry and your area is up over the last four years in January and February already, and the average occupancy in your region is better than most in the province. It's 54.8 percent in Prince George, and it's up 11.3 over the same time last year, 1987. So even though you don't have major conventions coming in, you have a plus-11.3 factor in January and February of 1988, which indicates to me that the momentum and the trend is continuing in your region. As I said to the other member earlier, our research and our details from every region around the province show that the numbers are up. They're not up 100 percent; they're not up 50 percent. Maybe in the case of some of these hotels and establishments, they're in real trouble unless they do get those kind of increments, but they won't happen anywhere, ever.
Our momentum is there: the incremental gains are there. The 6.1's and the 6.5's and so on that the other member talks about are very positive numbers. I can't guarantee the hotel industry incremental numbers any larger than that. I think it's pretty positive to have those continual increases.
The interesting number that was presented to me just yesterday was that not only is occupancy up 56.8 percent in March over 1987 across the province but the hotels have increased their rates by 3.4 percent over the previous year. They see fit, even if they're having the difficulties that you're talking about, to increase the rates at the same time. But the occupancy is up by 58 percent, so I don't know what else you can do. Talk to the industry and tell them . . . . Maybe they're not talking to their accountants or their bookkeepers. Maybe they're talking to each other, or maybe they're talking to many NDPers and getting negative responses out there and not positive ones.
I don't know the numbers. I have a concern if you can give me some specifics, but we're doing everything we can. We're filling up the hotels. January, February and March — 54 percent. It's higher than almost any other region in the province outside the two major cities. I don't know what else they could ask us to do.
MR. R. FRASER: I was trying to resist making a presentation today, but I just can't help myself. Listening to that opposition of socialists over there would just drive you right out of your mind. I knew the minister was getting a little tired of listening to it.
They're the kind of people who would have a sign on a trail saying: "Alexander Mackenzie, this is the way." They
[ Page 4260 ]
want a sign for him, the very first guy. This minister here, not doing a bad job, would say to the tourists: "Why don't you go north? Why don't you find something out there and have a little fun and look around?" Do you have to read a brochure every time you go somewhere? Can't you explore? Can't you figure it out? But no, we have to have a signpost on the trail for Alexander Mackenzie and probably a sign on the river for Simon Fraser, saying: "This is the river. Get in your boat and go from here to there."
It's so incredible. Every time it's negative. I know one thing for sure: there was not one NDP member or socialist of any kind who explored this country, because they would have had to have a brochure first. They wouldn't have had signposts on the trail. It's embarrassing for me as a British Columbian who has done a little travelling from time to time, to come back to this beautiful country of ours and say: "This is the place." To drink the beautiful water we have here, you don't need a sign: "This is a tap. Turn it on. Fill the glass. Drink here." You don't need that. You come to B.C., you look and say: "That's an interesting building. Why don't we go there?" No, you wouldn't do that as a socialist. You'd phone and say: "Do you have a brochure on something that I could look at out there?" You open your eyes. You just look somewhere.
This minister here has the right idea when he says we pushed the program after Expo because we were expecting a bit of downturn. We were certainly told by the members opposite that the world was going to come to an end after Expo, that nothing would happen after Expo. They didn't even want Expo to come. Your glorious leader over there said that the city of Vancouver would not be fooled by Expo. Six million visits or 13 million visits — oh, no, that wasn't going to work, no way. "By the way, don't come, we don't want you." Well, he was right. We didn't get 13 million visits; we got 22.5 million visits — not bad for a little province stuck off in the corner of the continent.
AN HON. MEMBER: With no signs.
MR. R. FRASER: That's right, no signs. Have a look around at British Columbia. I want the minister to repeat that once we get the thing going, once the pump is primed, he'll not spend taxpayers' money where it's not necessary, he'll commit himself to starting it up and then let the private sector do it, not paying one bit of attention to those members opposite who will never understand that you don't need a brochure to find something interesting in tourism.
MR. ROSE: Why do you have them on the ferry?
MR. R. FRASER: Because people like you need them. That's why we have them on the ferry. The opposition House Leader has to.... "This is Victoria. This is how you get on the ferry. You get off at the other end. Get in your car and drive to the parliament buildings." You need a brochure to find your way around from A to B.
MR. R. FRASER: You're not heckling loud enough; I can't hear you.
MR. ROSE: You couldn't find your way to Victoria for a whole week.
MR. R. FRASER: It was two weeks. I wasn't looking for Victoria; that's why I couldn't find it. I can't believe it. My colleague down here from Kelowna found his way down here without a brochure; my friend from Surrey found his way here without a brochure, just looking and thinking: "I know where it is." How many of you over there have driven from one end of Vancouver Island to the other? I have.
MRS. BOONE: I did.
MR. R. FRASER: That's one of you. That's good. Did you have a brochure? Actually you've got great country up there. They speak of you up there. They tell me you're incredible. We'll leave it at that.
Mr. Minister, tell me one more time. Tell all these people here what a great province we've got and that it's being promoted by the industry, the tourism operators and the hotel people as it should be. Don't let those guys have you spend those taxpayers' dollars unnecessarily.
MRS. BOONE: I am sure that all those people in the industry that support you will love to hear that statement. I might ask: how do you — the entrepreneur out there — as a salesman promote your things if you don't advertise? That is what we're talking about: advertising. Would you take all those people and send them to the Cariboo, let them out in some area and have them wander around in our wilderness without any information at all, and then send our Provincial Secretary's emergency team out to find them? Come on, let's have some reality here.
We have a trail; the trail is going to be built and we want to promote it. We are talking promotion here. We are not talking about brochures; we are talking about selling promotion, and any entrepreneur ought to know that that's what you have to do and that's what the people of B.C. have to do.
How did you find the Bahamas? Did you just wander through the ocean until you ran into them? I don't think so. You had a brochure that told you to go to the Bahamas. I'd like you to get another one to go back, please, Mr. Member.
AN HON. MEMBER: This is unfair.
MRS. BOONE: No, it is not. It is a true thing.
Mr. Minister, we have a great country and we have a great part of our country, and we want to see some of those things promoted. We want to see the areas promoted, regardless of what the member for Vancouver South, who probably couldn't even find the Chilcotin if he was to look for it, says. We believe the people out there have to know that the Chilcotin exists. They have to know that the Alexander Mackenzie Trail exists. We have to sell that to them. We have to do those signs just to indicate that it's there, because by gosh, you're not going to find that trail unless there is some kind of sign out there to indicate it.
So please, Mr. Minister, do not listen to the member for Vancouver South. From whence he comes you don't need any brochures to tell us, and I am sure he could find his way home somehow on the bus routes or what have you. Don't listen to him.
MS. EDWARDS: Mr. Chairman, I actually tried to short circuit this, because our number one wanderer over there, our caucus member, who obviously was lost in the wilderness for two weeks, has very little to tell us about trails.
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However, before we go any further — and I want to get back to the Gold Rush Trail project, because it is one that has aroused a lot of interest — I wonder if you could clarify for me some figures in the book.
I am trying to find where the figures are for the 800 line. When I look at it, as you suggested, line 82 is the $4 million Partners in Tourism program. It includes the Partners in Tourism money, most of which is regionally driven, some of which is centrally driven. I assume, since you said that Canadian Facts is running the 800 line, that some of it is under line 20, under marketing, but it only has $441,000 there. Where is the rest of that $1.2 million?
HON. MR. REID: I can't specifically answer your question relative to.... It comes under the global marketing budget — the $1.2 million allocated for the 800 number. What I should emphasize so that you understand is that the marketing money also includes three other components which you won't find in the blue printout, because the marketing budget has a global number attached to it which covers the $1.2 million.
[Mr. Pelton in the chair.]
Co-op advertising for Alaska in the north region. . . . We are also doing an initial $200,000 program this year with the area of the north from the other member's riding, which goes right up into the Alaska Highway in the Yukon and Alaska. We're also doing a co-op provincial association marketing program with the fish camp, ranch and ski operators for an additional $150,000, and an Asia-Europe co-op program with such things as Air Canada and Canadian Airlines International to the tune of $300,000 in Partners marketing money.
The specific answer to your question about the $1.2 million is under vote 66, code 40, on page 92. The number is $11 million, I think; I can hardly read it because the print's so small, but it's in the overall marketing budget.
MS. EDWARDS: Under marketing, Mr. Minister, on line 40 there is $3.8 million, by my book. Is that correct? The co-op advertising you were talking about, as I understand it, comes out of code 82.
HON. MR. REID: It is lumped in under section 40, total marketing budget. That's where the allocations for these other programs are, and that's one of them. It comes under the total global scene called marketing. When this was printed, we were heavily into our 1988 marketing program. The numbers were reshuffled around when the numbers came down in March, and you won't find them in here as it relates to the ministry. I can tell you what our global number is. The global number for the 800 number is $1.2 million. It's not broken down in a code 40. It's in the total code 40 number, which is $5.3 million in 1988-89.
MS. EDWARDS: I'm a little confused with this, Mr. Minister. Is the $5.3 million a total for code 40? But it's not all marketing money. Is that correct? I would assume this is marketing money we're talking about — or is it not? It goes right across....
HON. MR. REID: Can you go on?
MS. EDWARDS: Yes, I can go on and get.... I wanted to go back to the Gold Rush Trail, because this is a major program, one of the promotions that the ministry was talking about last year. It was under "Programs" and it was also to be marketed. As I understand it, $150,000 was to be spent last year out of the promotion budget on promoting the Gold Rush Trail. I am curious to know whether in fact that was spent and what it was spent on and what the result was. Before I sit down, I will refer to a November 27, 1987, private member's statement by the member for Yale-Lillooet (Mr. Rabbitt), who discussed this and said:
". . . the Gold Rush Trail has certainly not hit its potential. It hasn't come close. Last year the signs did not go up" — a Socred complaining about no signs, Mr. Minister, so I think you should pay attention — "and the season went by, and tourists were not able to take advantage of many of the advertisements that had been placed on the western side of the continent. I ask the minister to make this a priority this year and see that the signs go up prior to the tourist season, not after the tourist season is over. I also suggest that the Gold Rush Trail can be used in conjunction with other programs . . . ."
And so on.
What I'm saying is that this program was given a lot of significance by the ministry itself. It was to be promoted by $150,000. It had with it, as I understand, some promotion money that went somewhere to a Gold Rush Trail ride. I would like to know what happened to the Gold Rush Trail ride, where the project itself is — Gold Rush Trail marketing and development and so on — and what kind of promotion it will have this year. Where is the signage being done? Is it done? That kind of thing.
HON. MR. REID: As I indicated earlier, we just unveiled last Monday the first of the very professional Gold Rush Trail signs. My apologies to my colleagues from the Cariboo. The signage that we had encouraged be up during the summer and the fall of last year.... We ran into difficulty with the sign shop, which is run by the Highways ministry. The production time didn't provide the signs in time for the season last year. It wasn't appropriate to put them up in the fall. We had them ready for this tourism season, and they've started up as of Monday. They will be in place for this year. They are very effective. In spite of that, we had a very successful year on the Gold Rush Trail in 1987, but 1988 will even be better.
The answers to your other question about the Gold Rush marketing activities of 1987-88. We produced 100,000 of those brochures called "The Gold Rush Trail," which cost us $140,000. We had an advertising campaign around the whole province talking about the touring marketing. We spent a total of $574,000 on that around the province, of which a large portion was earmarked in and around the Gold Rush Trail. That was one of the products. We didn't specifically market that one, but it was a part of the overall touring marketing.
The Ride of a Lifetime did go ahead last year. It cost us $150,000 and was very successful. That started in New Westminster and went right on through into Barkerville. It was a very innovative idea in tourism marketing and had some tourists come in and be part of the Ride of a Lifetime. I don't know if you know how it worked. Visitors and guests actually became part of that trail ride in any segment that they wanted to be part of — starting from New Westminster, picking up anywhere along the way — and actually went with the ride for a day or two or three, depending on their stamina. They actually dressed the part. They rode the stagecoach and
[ Page 4262 ]
sat around with colleagues in the evening and had a barbecue — beans and beans — and actually dragged water out of the creek to look after the facilities and that kind of thing. It was very successful, and we were very pleased with it. It was a very innovative idea on behalf of a private entrepreneur and his group from up there who needed some assistance from us. It was a marketing tool for us internationally on some of the quality products that are available in tourism.
MS. EDWARDS: Mr. Minister, how many people participated in the Ride of a Lifetime? Were they local? Were they from outside the province or the country, and do you have any indication that any of them may return? Are you going to sponsor this kind of thing again? You said that you gave some assistance to a local entrepreneur. Could you tell me what kind of assistance? How much, how was it managed and how did you control the expenditure of that money?
HON. MR. REID: We had a contract with the gentleman and his firm. It was for $150,000 in total, which included marketing and promotion of the trail ride and some contractual arrangements we had in order that, if it started, it be able to continue through to its completion, inasmuch as it was new and innovative, which we were very successful with as a ministry. We saw this as an innovative package to promote internationally. I cannot give you the numbers specifically, because that was not a requirement of the program. We thought it was innovative and exciting, and it was successful. I'm not so sure you can always measure the success of anything by numbers, except in dollars into the till of the province of British Columbia.
Whether it's continuing on in 1988 and 1989 is totally up to the proponent. The ministry will not be involved with financial assistance to it this year, but we will be encouraging it. It was a very neat product and was well accepted by the people who did participate. We heard lots of good things about it across the United States and Canada.
MS. EDWARDS: You say that it was $150,000. I presume it is the same $150,000 you were talking about with 100,000 brochures. Or was it another $150,000?
MS. EDWARDS: Okay. Ride of a Lifetime had $150,000; the Gold Rush Trail had $600,000 or $700,000 — something like that to promote it. I would say 100,000 brochures and an ad campaign, which is $574,000. Is that correct?
HON. MR. REID: I want to make this abundantly clear. We spent $574,000 on tour marketing around the province, and part of the component of that was the Gold Rush Trail. It totalled $574,000, so please don't refer to it as the cost for doing the Gold Rush Trail promotion. The Gold Rush Trail identification can be specifically earmarked at the brochures, which was 100,000 publications at $140,000. The Ride of a Lifetime was a tourism attraction program, a public relations program and a photo opportunity for the media, international media people, to see what kind of opportunities there are in a kind of rustic, Cariboo-Chilcotin type of tourism. It seemed to us to be a neat product, and it worked very well. Specifically, we contributed only $150,000 in total to the Ride of a Lifetime. Including all of the components that we were involved, contractual and otherwise, it was $150,000 maximum, and $140,000 was for the brochures. The other component comes out of the total $574,000 for marketing around the province, of which the Gold Rush Trail was one component.
MS. EDWARDS: You talked about promoting it internationally, and you said part of it was for marketing and promotion. Now you say you had some international journalist there for photos and so on and so forth. That was part of the $150,000 promotion figure. Was the ministry involved in any of the costs for that? We're talking international marketing, the kind of stuff I'm encouraging you to continue. How did that work? I'm even more curious when you say you did marketing and promotion, and then you say there were some needs for the completion of the ride. Can you elaborate on that?
HON. MR. REID: I don't know how I used the words "needs for the completion of the ride." We agreed that it was a neat product and a neat promotion, and something which didn't exist in B.C. up until that time. We wanted to use that component for public relations purposes for marketing the Chilcotin and the Cariboo. This particular Ride of a Lifetime promotion cost the ministry — are you paying attention? — $150,000 in total for all of our involvement. I don't know if you want me to tell you how many stamps we sent out, how many brochures and booklets were asked for, and all those kinds of things, but the Ride of a Lifetime component towards tourism public relations in the promotion program.... The photo opportunities were provided to people on the ride. It was nothing to do with the government or the ministry.
This was a new, innovative product, and one we couldn't talk about to anybody else around the world. Since it was so innovative, we had the media from each of the communities along the way welcoming the Ride of a Lifetime, gathering the local people in for an evening around the ride people and the visitors who picked up the ride from other areas around the United States and Canada and became part of it. So when they entered a little town like Boston Bar, the evening was made up of the whole aura around the Ride of a Lifetime: the stagecoach ride in the old days; they sang songs; they had beans and wieners. I don't think the minister paid for any beans and wieners; I didn't really care about it. It cost us totally $150,000, the best investment we've ever made to market the product that has been the best-kept secret in the world: the Cariboo and the Chilcotin. Barkerville, Fort Wells and those areas benefited immensely from the program — a great program.
MS. EDWARDS: Could the minister elaborate on how the area benefited from the program? You tell me you don't have any counts as to who went on the ride or how many people participated, or any of those figures. It seems to me that when it comes to wieners and beans, it's time to count the beans.
Why would you spend $150,000? You don't know if it's going on again this year, you don't know how many people participated, and so on. How do you evaluate this expenditure of $150,000?
HON. MR. REID: I don't have to, because it's not in my 1988-89 budget. I don't have it in the budget, so I don't know
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why you're pursuing it. I gave you the reasons. It was a very effective public relations program. People from as far away as Germany participated. I don't have their names and addresses, but I'm sure that Hans Dankel, the man who ran the program, can tell you how excited my ministry was about the opportunity for a brand-new product to be promoted. We're not promoting it in 1988-89 as a product of the ministry, because of our choice to diversify our marketing money. It is not a program in 1988-89; it's not in the estimates. I don't know why the Chairman is allowing you to proceed with the discussion, because it's not a part of our budget in 1988-89.
MS. EDWARDS: I think, Mr. Minister, it deals with the continuing promotion, as I understand it, of the Gold Rush Trail itself. There is a continuing promotion, and I'm curious as to how the ministry evaluates the kinds of promotions it does. This was a very clear one; it was one of the two last year. There were very limited directions to the promotion money. One of them was what was called in the headline a culture campaign in the U.S., which I haven't even mentioned yet. Another was the Gold Rush Trail ride, and I was hoping you might have some very clear figures to show me how that one worked, and you would tell me what you're planning to do this year that would take the promotion dollars.
Maybe what you're telling me is that there are no promotion dollars for this kind of thing this year. Maybe it's time to get down to the $11 million — as you say, sometimes $10 million, sometimes $11 million; somewhere between $10 million and $11 million — for global marketing. Could you give me an answer now on exactly how the ministry plans to do with $10 million what it had to do with $15 million last year? In other words, we're dealing again with a cut in the marketing budget. We're dealing with what you're going to do with that $10 million for global marketing.
HON. MR. REID: If you'll just give us a second, we'll get a breakdown on the $10 million for marketing. Let me read you, Madam Member, the tourism advertising and marketing summary. You may be able to pick the numbers out of it, because I haven't read this particular page until now.
"The research conducted in the last two years enables the ministry to identify target groups who have a greater interest in visiting B.C. and the best means to convince them to travel here. By evaluating the responses to our advertising, we've been able to direct the development of our creative material and selection of our media to obtain a better return on the government's investment in tourism advertising."
As I told you before, we talk daily about innovative ideas to get a bigger bang for our buck. The 800 number is one of them; Partners in Tourism is another; the three co-op programs are specific identifications of programs which were not in place last year but are in this year. The research and testing will continue in 1988 to influence future marketing decisions, which are made on an ongoing basis in order to respond to the market. The market, by virtue of our visitor survey — the one that I'm sorry you do not have, but we have breakdowns of it.... This survey indicates to us a different thrust in our marketing. What we didn't know in September, we now know in January. So my staff have been instructed to modify our programs so that we get a bigger bang for our buck in the United States, eastern Canada, Europe and the Pacific Rim. We have programs in place....
The publication program, for instance, was in place prior to the allocation of funds. So there is roughly a $2 million allocation for the number of publications we have, which are the travel guides, the accommodation guides, the saltwater and freshwater fishing guides, the Gold Rush Trail publications, the maps and those kinds of things.
In 1987-88 our tourism advertisement reached a magazine circulation of approximately 30 million people. In 1988-89 we'll be reaching a circulation of approximately 24 million people. While the ministry's television advertising will be limited to four weeks on cable networks in April this year, magazine advertisements will end in May. There will be a residual effect of our advertising for several months. The Partners in Tourism program will help fill some of these variations and changes.
Our implementation of the 800 toll-free number — a line for customer inquiries — will create savings over 1987-88 and make for better handling of our customers.
I know that's not specific. My deputy is going to break down, in rough numbers, out of the $10 million proposed marketing programs.... As I say, we modify them almost daily, and we will be changing a lot of those that we had in place in '87-88, as a result of our results in '87 and our visitor survey, which is telling us different focuses. One of the directions we've changed since the publication of the budget.... The numbers went into the Finance ministry. The 800 number is a very good example of that. So we're seeing the strength of that, and if we had our druthers I guess we'd put even more funds into an 800 number expansion, as a result of the success it's having.
Also, our publications, without fail, are winning awards internationally for the quality productions we're making with the money we're investing in them.
MS. EDWARDS: Maybe a specific question will help, but I think the minister said that he is reaching a certain circulation right now with print ads, with only four weeks of cable ads in April; that the magazine ads will peter out during May. You are hoping, with good luck and great optimism, that perhaps the Partners in Tourism program will take over for a while. I assume that's in all the media you use. Then you say, Mr. Minister, that the 800 line, of course, will give information to a huge number of people.
Could you explain to me how you're going to get that 800 number out if you have a much more limited print marketing program in particular? I would think it was most important.... Although you may find — and I'm not trying to limit you — that the number works very well in television presentations or something, or even radio.... But could you tell me how you expect the 800 line to work if in fact the rest of the marketing program and the rest of what's out there...? I mean, nobody knows the number if it doesn't get out there. How do you get it out there?
HON. MR. REID: If the member is under the impression that we're not spending any marketing money, nothing could be further from the truth. We're spending $10 million in 1988-89 on marketing, and it's divided up into $6 million generic and $4 million in Partners, in round numbers. Forty-six percent of our $6 million will be spent in B.C.; 5 percent in general in Alberta: 5 percent in Ontario; 34 percent in California, because that's one of our major markets; 7 percent in Washington; and 3 percent in the other parts of the United
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States. It will be in the range of the very high-impact ads that we now have out there, which are working . . . .
Already we know they're working in such things as Sunset Magazine and Field and Stream. We're still into those magazines, and what we found out from that "Visitor '87" survey is that there are some processes . . . . Some marketing programs we were using were not as effective and maybe not as area-specific as they could have been as a result of the tourists who were here and the direction we will now go into. So if we can be more specific to an area of the central United States, in relation to the attractions and the areas that they want to visit in B.C., we can be very specific in material and in advertisements that go there.
Our television marketing. For instance, we found out that if we're very selective in our television marketing in the Los Angeles and California market, and we specifically zero in at particular times, we get a tremendous response. The 800 number is just starting to get some of the television ads, because it's only been out there for a short time. But it has been in publications since April 1. All of our ads internally will carry the 800 number, but there is a corporate community, a private sector community, out there that also wants to tell the story about our 800 number and the effect it's having and what the advantage is for them. So the 800 number is a number that anybody can use to market Tourism B.C. Give the number, and if it's something area-specific that they want some help with, they give out the number — 1-800-663-6000, I think.
I'm optimistic. I'm of the opinion that what we've been doing in the last four years has been so successful that there's momentum there. We have an opportunity to shift gears a little in 1988-89 and take advantage of area-specific marketing, so that we continue that momentum. I give you the assurance that 1988 will be a bigger year than 1987, and '89 will be bigger than '88; you can quote me now and forever. And 1990 will even be bigger yet, because what we're doing is the right thing at the right time. Sometimes it's not the bulk of the money; it's the way it's spent and the direction in which it's utilized to get the biggest bang for the buck.
MS. EDWARDS: Mr. Minister, forgive me if I don't have too much faith in your plunking the money on the table, because we've had some experience of it not necessarily working out too well, vis-à-vis the fees. You remember: "There'll be more tourists. They love to pay fees. We'll increase our attendance even though we have admission fees." Well, ho, ho, ho, Mr. Minister, but I hope you're right this time.
You're talking about targeting, about going into California because it's a great market. That's good. I have no problems with the fact that you build on your own success. But how much do you expand the market? How are you deciding if you're going to expand the market? More importantly, who are you targeting? Could you tell us that? What kind of tourism business looks like it's going to be the one on the expansion?
I read, Mr. Minister — and I'm curious to know whether you agree with me — that wilderness tourism is becoming one of the biggest and most exciting areas in tourism. Are you targeting, for example, the people who like wilderness tourism? What kinds of questioning and polling are you doing that tell you whether that kind of tourism is where the growth is? Or are we staying with that party of three that normally comes? The rubber-tire traffic from the U.S., as I understand it, is normally a party of three as a family, and so on. Can you give me some of those directions so that I get some idea of who our tourists are, how you decide who they are and how you decide where you're going to find them?
HON. MR. REID: I want to tell you how happy I am with that particular question. Never has any area in the marketing of tourism been so well prepared to respond in report form. If you give me a moment, I'll get some numbers extrapolated from the information which I have in front of me. It's in here, and it's very specific. It deals with the concerns and questions you have. One thing we can tell without a doubt today, which we can't in any other area, is why the people came, why they're coming back, what kind of money they're going to spend, and how much they spend on accommodation, meals and visiting museums and other attractions.
I don't want to caution you to lose your enthusiasm for the historical attractions and museums, but if there was a big shock, I got one .... The material I read on the kind of attention the average tourist was giving to those in relation to others kind of shocked me. If I were to read to you the main purposes of the trips of visitors to the Cariboo, for example.... I could use your region if I could find it here. We have it for every region. Business visits, conference visits, visits with friends and relatives, touring trips, city trips, personal reasons, outdoor trips, wilderness adventure, resort visits, cruise visits, theme park visits, special events and so on are all in, this now by percentage from Canada, the United States — international and by region; total visits to B.C., for which reason and by percentage for each of those categories.
They are different for each region. As a result of their being different for each region, we've even provided a breakdown and a summary for each tourism region of the province. We can go to the page called "Highlights" in each of these reports. It's also generalized for the whole province — which I'm sorry I don't have at my fingertips. It's in the major one. I could pull a page out for you in a moment.
If I were to take, for instance, this one page, which may be global enough to give you the answer you're looking for.... We're talking about the Cariboo tourism region:
"In 1987, there were 159,000 party-nights spent by non-B.C. residents in the Cariboo tourism region during the period from late June to the end of October. The Cariboo region represents approximately 2 per cent of the provincial visitor party-nights total. The total number of parties visiting the Cariboo during the four-month survey period was 55,000. Americans made up the largest market share, at 70 percent, followed by international visitors at 18 percent and Canadians at 12 percent."
Bear in mind, Madam Member, that this report only refers to people from outside the boundaries of British Columbia. None of these numbers refer to internal British Columbia visitors. Fifty percent of our tourism is from outside, and 50 percent is B.C. visiting B.C. All these numbers are only talking about regions and visits from outside the border.
Over half of the travellers to the Cariboo — 55 percent, in fact — preferred to travel by private vehicle. This was followed by RVs at 30 percent. Six out of ten visitors to the Cariboo indicated that touring was the main reason for their trip. Visiting friends and relatives and outdoor trips were the main reasons given for their trips to the Cariboo by four out of ten visitors. The average party size was 2.8, while the most common party composition was two adults travelling together.
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The majority of visitors to the Cariboo had been to B.C. before. As eight out of ten indicated, this was not their first trip to B.C. Three-quarters of the visitors to the Cariboo — this is a very interesting number, and the one that gives us so much optimism — did not attend Expo 86. A whole new category of people have found out about us — world-class — since Expo, so that's a very interesting number. The preferred mode of accommodation used by visitors to the Cariboo was camping, cited by almost half the visitors. One in four visitors stayed with friends and relatives.
Visitors to the Cariboo spent on average $76 per party and $27 per person per day. The single biggest expenditure of $21 a day was in auto transportation, followed by daily accommodation. Total non-resident tourist revenue generated in the Cariboo region during the July-to-October period was $10.7 million. This represents about 1 percent of total out-of province visit expenditures in the province during the summer-to-fall period.
That's one page from one summary of nine. We have nine like that, and there is a breakdown by page, by percentages, by method of travel into B. C. — own vehicle, rented vehicle, RV, bus, plane, train, cruise, ferry and other. "Other" would be the wagon train, and it's not very significant, but it's in there. It tells you. If it would qualify at all, it would be part of that quotient.
To answer your question so that you can be pretty happy about what we're doing, and so that some day, if you happen to be successful and become Minister of Tourism, you'd have all this to inherit — God forbid . . . . You can rest assured that it's going to be in such good shape you won't believe it. The details that we're doing daily and monthly are so accurate and up to date that we're ahead of anybody else in the world.
MS. EDWARDS: I hope you're getting things in order, Mr. Minister, and keeping them in order. I am hoping very much that you will continue to do this kind of thing, because I still don't have an answer about how you are doing your planning and who you're looking to next. Where does the growth come in the industry? You've said very clearly that you have a good profile of the visitor that's here. Are you going to continue to do this research so that you know where the growth is, what they would like to do next and that kind of thing? I would like to know that.
You indicate that 75 percent of the people — and I believe that was a general across-the-province figure — who visited in 1987 had not been at Expo. What that says to me very clearly is that they probably heard about it from other promotions. Americans make up a huge percentage of the visitors to British Columbia, and I think they come because of promotion and marketing. Again I am trying to find out how you justify that cut in marketing. You can't stop doing the marketing. You can't cut it out and expect it to continue to happen.
I want to know more of the specifics about how you're planning ahead, and how you expect to keep this growing in 1989 and 1990 — or you're going to lose a lot of bets, Mr. Minister.
HON. MR. REID: No, Madam Member. As I said to you before, we are now so sophisticated in our research with our destination marketing, direct marketing and focused marketing that we've got better research now as a result of that "Visitor 87" survey. We've got more focused and direct marketing and a program designed in 1988-89 that we haven't had before and more free advertising. We're getting more people. Word of mouth is the biggest advertiser for the province of British Columbia. It's also the positive attitude of the SuperHost people out there and their friendliness, which is about 50 percent of our marketing, if the truth were known.
People just love British Columbia, and they always want to come back. When they are here, they are treated so fairly by everybody out there, and the industry treats them so well. That's a part of our main success. We have that momentum growing — the 800 number and more cooperative marketing. We also have the private sector coming to the marketing program stronger than ever. What we've always wanted to do is have the private sector tell their story better than they ever have in the past, and it's working.
MS. EDWARDS: I know you're going to suggest that what you're doing with the budget is just limited. But there are reports that say the province will not be able to place any more Super, Natural British Columbia ads in national and international markets after June 30. Is this true?
HON. MR. REID: That's not true.
MS. EDWARDS: I can assume then, that Super, Natural British Columbia — obviously that's not going to go on forever, but that type of huge ad that advertises British Columbia — will continue to go out in considerable numbers as well as the piggybacking and the advertising that you say you're doing in cooperative form.
You said you had some sharing programs, certainly with Alaska. I'm curious to know whether you have investigated doing sharing programs with other neighbours. I think you've been interested in working in tandem with Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska and all those places, as you've said. Why not Alberta? Have you done that, maybe?
HON. MR. REID: Thank you, Madam Member, for that question, because that leads me into probably one of the main reasons Alberta was successful in '87 with their Olympics. They piggybacked on us. We have collectively now a product called Canada West, which we market in tandem with the Alberta government in Europe. It has been extremely successful. This is an opportunity to tell you how cooperative marketing works better when you team up with other people who are in the same area marketing similar products, where one product and one commodity complements another. So successful has Canada West been that just recently something like 164 or 170 busloads of people came in from Calgary through the Cariboo and over into the Whistler area as a result of the Canada West British Columbia-Alberta cooperative marketing.
Secondly, yes, we do have a two-nation vacation marketing program with Washington state — the only state in the United States that does team up with their neighbour, Canada and British Columbia. We're happy about that. As a matter of fact, in your region there is a loop which includes Washington state and parts of British Columbia as part of a separate tour circle in that section of Washington-British Columbia, which works very effectively. We're doing a similar thing with the Yukon and Alaska in relation to Alaska Highway trips, Yukon trips and cruising trips to the coast.
As I said to you before, my people are very innovative. They're always taking up any opportunity which advances
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itself so we can get a bigger bang for our buck. We have, as you know, the Inside British Columbia program which goes on daily around the province. Overwaitea puts over a million dollars into it, and it costs us around $200,000 out of our marketing budget — talking about specific products around the province of British Columbia on a daily basis. It's very successful. It's partnered, but the free enterprise, private sector people are the bigger investors and we get a bigger bang for our buck. Those programs work very effectively. They're all good; they're all cooperative.
MS. EDWARDS: Could you tell us what other companies you've worked with? I think Canadian Airlines — at least when it was Canadian Pacific Airlines. Can you give an idea of the companies that the ministry has worked with so that it can piggyback on their advertising?
HON. MR. REID: From memory, I'll go with the ones that I have and my deputy is writing other ones that he can give me some guidance on. We have Air Canada, which we team up with for the European market; we've got Overwaitea, as I've said to you before; Alpha Beta Foods in California, which gave us somewhere in the neighbourhood of $2.2 million. That was the marketing value of the Alpha Beta campaign in California last year, which was a very successful one. It talked about "Super, Natural British Columbia" as an opportunity, and they had some giveaways and some free trips into British Columbia by the firm Alpha Beta foods. We didn't contribute a lot of money to it, but we got $2.2 million worth of impact. We got Canadian Airlines International and Tourism Canada, which is our other international partner in all of our tourism products, when they're out of British Columbia. We're able to match up dollars with Tourism Canada with a product which generates not only B.C. visits but Canada-B. C. visits. It's been very successful.
MS. EDWARDS: I'd like to move on to talk a bit about the SuperHost program. I understand that it's continuing this year but on a more limited basis than it was before. This is one of the programs that the tourism people across the province like very much. I think they participated very enthusiastically. After SuperHost came the Encore program. As I understand it, the Encore program is being emphasized this year. This is number three year. What's happening in number three year? Is the budget the same? Is it going to be expanded or what?
HON. MR. REID: Yes, equal amounts will be provided in '88-89 towards the SuperHost program, because without question it's the most successful type of program ever introduced. It's such a successful program, I can tell you, that almost every province in Canada has looked at it. A couple have already copied it. There are some states in the U.S. that have put it in place. Some of them give us total credit for it and even call it SuperHost in their own state.
My director of the SuperHost program, as a matter of fact, is shortly going to be a guest — if he's not there now — of the government in Trinidad and Tobago to implement the training program for their people in the tourism industry. They were so impressed with the program when they were here during the Commonwealth conference and with the actual attitude of the people in the industry called tourism. They knew there was something more out there in a training program that had to be available, which we're proud of, called SuperHost.
In the first year we had about 50,000 participants. Last year it went up to around 70,000. This year we have 1,100 trainers in 115 communities in B.C. Again, I don't know if we have a title . . . . "SuperHost Encore Plus," I guess we can call it. The one thing we don't want to do is create sort of a self-destruct to the previous graduates. We want to give them add-ons. If we have 100,000 graduates in the program now, if they're continuing to come to it with additional numbers, plus the previous people are coming back for honing up, that tells you it's successful.
Vancouver International Airport, as a matter of fact, has just taken on the whole program to introduce it to all the staff. That's how successful it is. The Royal Bank has taken it on as a program around the province of British Columbia. SuperHost has now been injected into all the Royal Banks as part of their overall training program for the staff. That's just to show you how successful it is.
MS. EDWARDS: I'm just curious — could you tell me how this program is administered? Where do I find the amounts for it in the lines? Is it administered directly? Is it the kind of program that would be administered or simply used as a resource for information by the Pacific Rim Institute of Tourism?
HON. MR. REID: That particular component of my ministry comes under Mr. Jim Doswell, the assistant deputy minister in the development department. It's part of his global budget towards development. The development line in the budget is $3.4 million this year. It includes a component for SuperHost. Earlier I gave you the assurance that the same money will be in place for SuperHost in 1988-89; it will be $175,000. It's not an expensive program. We're fortunate that it's mostly volunteer-driven, and the 1,100 trainers are all volunteers. They assist the program. The components that the $175,000 pays for are the setup of the presentations in the communities where we go, paying for doughnuts and coffee for the trainees and the volunteers that come to take the program. The local communities charge an administration fee — I think the number is somewhere around $10 — to register, in order to pay for certificates and those kinds of things. It's not a very expensive program, but very effective.
MS. EDWARDS: Another issue that is a matter of some considerable concern right across the province, and it hasn't gone away, despite the fact that it's not new, is that you've been closing tourist information booths. The final one, as I understand it, of the number that the ministry owned and ran was the Douglas crossing tourist information booth. It was closed in February of this year.
It's created some major concern to tourism people around the borders of the province, and certainly in my area there are a number of people considerably concerned about the fact that you can cross into our province and it is miles and miles until you find a tourist booth, and then you may find something like this photograph which I hold up. There's enough of them that the ministry had signs made — beautiful blue signs with the white lettering which says: "Tourism British Columbia Information Centre. Sorry, We're Closed." Then if you look around.... This one happened to be at Golden. That's on the Trans-Canada Highway, where the entry is from Alberta. When you do eventually find a tourist information booth, it is way off the highway down in Golden. I've heard lots of descriptions, and since it's not in
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my riding, I wouldn't care to repeat some of the comments that were made about trying to find it, and so forth. The same sorts of things are said about other customs crossings — entries into the province. I know that at the crossing — one of them — in my riding, there is no information booth at all. When one of the local Indian bands — they have a restaurant there — wanted to attach a tourism booth, there was no help for them to do that kind of thing.
The Douglas border crossing, which of course has been the one of greatest interest in the media this year, has been closed and signs are supposed to be there to direct the tourist traffic to local tourism information centres. They were to be erected, and I'm not sure that that has happened by now. There are evidently two smaller booths put up by local groups, and there is some suggestion that these have very poor vehicle access. They are in smaller buildings; they don't look so good. The people who are coming into the country at this huge Douglas crossing . . . . The numbers at the Douglas crossing, I believe, are the greatest in the province. You can correct me on that if I'm wrong. It's one of the large ones. Why is the ministry continuing to close down these tourist information booths, when in fact they are relatively inexpensive? If you want a bang for your buck, do the information booths not do it for you?
HON. MR. REID: One of the programs I inherited when I took over this ministry was that the chambers of commerce in each community around the province be more aggressively involved with marketing their communities and the products they had available. We had competitor offices operated by the ministry in the province in areas where it was incumbent upon the government to take a look at a bigger bang for the buck. So the chambers of commerce and other organizations in 145 communities around the province have taken on a network program of uniform signage, uniform direction, uniform training, and we have now a better travel information network in British Columbia than we've ever had before.
As a result of that, the ministry, which was not in the across-the-counter-sales business as a ministry . . . . Not within the province but externally we are, in our offices in L.A., Seattle, San Francisco and London. In those areas we are an across-the-counter service. But when you come into the province of British Columbia, there was a case made very effectively by the chambers of commerce and the communities out there that they can do a better job of telling the public about the attractions they have and the areas there are to see and the things there are to do, and of helping to complement the tours and the tourists in finding some of these neat attractions that British Columbia has, rather than having them scoot down the highway at 80 miles an hour after they cross the border.
We had only one left, which was at Douglas. It was not adequate as a building. It also encompassed an exchange bank for exchanging American money into Canadian money. The parking there was so restricted that we were having major problems in relation to the number of cars trying to get by that site on a daily basis. So the chambers of commerce of South Surrey and White Rock and Surrey and Delta made a presentation to us, on the understanding that they could better service that same traffic, give better travel information and facility direction to all these people, to assist not only the province but also the communities which they are serving.
The evidence is . . . . You said something about the Mickey Mouse operations by the travel information people. I can tell you, I wish the Delta people were up in the audience still, because their chamber of commerce just built a $200,000 facility just off the freeway northbound, which is now, as a result of the government getting out of the business of across-the-counter service, getting mega numbers of people through it daily. They were getting two or three a day prior to the traffic being directed into locally operated travel info centres.
In South Surrey, Surrey chamber is opening a full service at the Campbell River Store, which is in a brand-new operation; it has ten times the parking that was available at Douglas. Without question, it will give a lot better service to the travelling public, and that's what we want: better direction into where there are camping facilities and food facilities and tourist attractions and transportation museums and the kinds of things that the people haven't been able to find because the centre at Douglas was not adequately equipped to do that. So in the place of one, we have four effective centres doing the job of one — doing it on behalf of the communities rather than on behalf of the taxpayer, and doing a hell of a job for us.
Our mandate is to get the people to British Columbia. Once we get them through the border, they never turn back. What they do, though, is find out what's going on, what's to see and do, and that's what local information centres do. If somewhere down the line we find evidence that these people cannot do an adequate job on behalf of the tourists, we'll enter the picture again. At this point we are convinced they are doing a great job and adequately serving the tourists in every area with respect to travel information. We love them for it.
MS. EDWARDS: Okay. Are you suggesting, Mr. Minister, that the chambers of Surrey and Delta approached the ministry, asked the ministry to close down that border crossing information centre, and said they would do something else?
HON. MR. REID: You are taking words out of context. My ministry staff had discussions all last year with South Surrey, White Rock and the Delta people, and they're ongoing with our other network people, about the Douglas crossing and its ineffectiveness and how it could better serve the travelling public. I'm not sure who approached whom, but my ministry has a mandate to get better service for the travelling public. It was probably incumbent upon my staff to approach them and say: "Hey, we think that the travelling public coming across at Douglas on 176 are not being served. The traffic is going straight into the community without any advice. We need to have a service for all the people crossing the border." If you're going to make things out of words, then I will couch what I say very cautiously, because I don't want to leave the impression that they approached us. Maybe they did; but we talked collectively about the resolution.
MS. EDWARDS: I wanted to be very careful about it, Mr. Minister. because there certainly were a number of people very upset about the fact that it was closed, and I wanted to know whose idea it was that it close.
I have still some concerns about whether or not there are signs right at the border. I need to deal with that.
You mentioned communities: let the communities do it. I know that there are many communities right across the province who do a very good job with their own information booths; they do a fantastic job. But if you look at the edges of
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our province and the rubber-tire visitors from outside the province — which, I believe, is the largest part of our tourists — then you've got them coming in and it's often miles and miles before they have a tourist booth, and it may not be on the highway because the communities that serve that area are not there. For example, if you come up through Rexford and so on up into my riding, from down in the south country, you don't have any kind of a tourism booth until you either turn right 30 miles up and go to Fernie or turn left and go on to Cranbrook. The idea of communities doing it may be very good in the lower mainland, with White Rock, Surrey, Delta and many other communities right there, but there is a long border with the U.S. where there are no communities, The Alberta border is exactly the same sort of thing, because you have miles and miles where there is nothing.
So first of all, I want to know whether the signs are there. Does the ministry not perceive that there could be some value in having at least some of these tourism booths at the border? You say that you will look at it, of course, and measure whether they are doing an adequate job for the tourists. How do you measure it?
HON. MR. REID: The very simple measure we can use within a month will be how many people visit those four centres daily in comparison to the number of people who visited the one at Douglas on a daily basis — 1987 versus 1988. That's a very simple one. Secondly, the number of people running businesses and attractions in the area who are getting visits accelerated by virtue of the opportunity of telling them about the product.
All of that has some relation to signage. You asked me about signage. Yes, there's a sign now installed just north of the Douglas crossing — somewhere around 500 feet, in case you're writing it down. There's a new sign that says, "Tourist information next right" — something of that nature — with a logo and our nice neat red, white and blue Social Credit kind of glow, and a little flag on it.
We will also be adding, wherever there is inadequate signage in communities around the province, signs to direct people to travel information centres that exist in other places, and not only in Delta, South Surrey and White Rock Crescent Beach — that 12-by-8 one that says, "Travel information office open 8:00-4:30" and so on, which we are providing around the province collectively. Those signs are up on the freeway now, directing people into the one in Delta.
As I said to you before, I can't give you the numbers at Delta. I can get them for you if you wish. I know they are absolutely astounding. They are asking for my ministry's support for additional staff because of the number of people stopping there, which is a big surprise to them because they thought this momentum would go slowly. Like everything else we are doing, it's actually going with incredible speed. So they are getting the visitors in there. Visitations to the Richmond office, which is just north of the tunnel: I can get you the exact numbers, but they're up significantly over '87 also.
So in saying that, I will give you, whenever you want, statistics about numbers of people who visit these centres. That's how we will monitor whether they are, in fact, giving direction to more people. That's the success of tourism: to have our communities talk to more people, getting the visitor to see some of the products that are around. They can't see the products at 80 miles an hour, so they have to go into the communities. That's what signage will do. We now have a very aggressive Highways ministry/Tourism ministry signage policy in this province, which is very exciting. It's going to tell people how to find the product, not how fast to get out of the province. It's the first time ever we've had two ministries talking about how to look after the tourist, rather than chasing them out of the province as fast as we can. It's all coming together.
MS. EDWARDS: I believe the signage program you're talking about is a pilot project.
HON. MR. REID: No, no.
MS. EDWARDS: No? I'm obviously inundated with paper, Mr. Minister, but I read the other day that you were looking at a pilot project, I believe near Hope, and it was something to do with signage. Do you know what I'm talking about?
HON. MR. REID: Why was reference made to a pilot project? We are going to have area-specific highway signage outside of Highway 10. We're having the first area, called the Gold Rush Trail, signed from Hope all the way to Prince George as the first project in the province using a specific logo and area-specific signage. The Alexander Mackenzie road from Clinton out to Bella Bella may be another example. Fort Steele Way — I don't know the names, but the Highways ministry and our ministry are talking about the rest of the highways having not only a sign saying Highway 10, which is on every map . . . . We will also have maps around the province starting as soon as we describe other highways such as the Gold Rush Trail. The Coquihalla Highway will have a specific sign on it, and a map that says the Coquihalla has these attractions.
That's the pilot project; that's the first one. There will be a Vancouver Island one. We're looking at a description that we can start to apply on Vancouver Island. The regional tourism association of southwest B.C. has a component in their region called Sea to Sky country. They've decided to put little signs of their own, and we think it's great. We'll probably embellish that, with the Highways ministry and our ministry saying if that's the description they wish to live with between Horseshoe Bay and Pemberton and up that way, fair enough. So the second pilot could conceivably be the Sea to Sky country highway, or it could be the Fort Steele area highway or whatever. Each of them will have a descriptive name which will embellish it for the traveller by talking about not a highway by number, but a highway by description. Gold Rush Trail is the first one.
MS. EDWARDS: I'm a bit curious. I live on Highway 3; that's the one with the crow on top of it. You may have noticed, the last time you drove that highway, that there are a lot of signs along the way that say Dewdney Trail. How many of these particular logos and patterns will you be including in this kind of thing? Maybe you're not going to decide; I'd like to know whether or not you are.
Also, a lot of people in my riding who run tourist facilities and businesses want to sign along the highway, and they're not allowed to because of Highways rules. Does this program deal with any of that stuff?
HON. MR. REID: We're going to try not to have a confusion of collective types of signage. If the crow is the
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region's choice — with some help from you and the other people up there — for the description of that particular highway, fair enough. I'm saying to you, in consultation with the Highways minister, that's kind of exciting. It's progressive. If that's the choice, fine. We're not going to compete with choices. The Gold Rush Trail was a collective choice, and it suited everybody. The same thing will apply to other highways in the province. The Highways minister has said he's excited about this kind of generation of descriptive signs.
So the pilot project is the Gold Rush Trail. Others — Dewdney Trail, the Sasquatch Trail — could conceivably be generated by the community which the highway is servicing, and we'll make up the neat little signs that do that. It gives you a nice kind of warm feeling about not being on Highway 3, you're on the Crow highway. The map tells you that the Crow highway goes from so-and-so to so-and-so. Fair enough.
The concern you have for the merchants along the way.... I'm sorry I don't have a sample of the signs we unveiled at Alexander.... Okay, if you have it there. We did unveil four or five of them on Monday that address the concerns of, say, Joe and Mary's Lodge, Christina Lake. It will be a big, blue, four-by-eight that will say "Campsites Ahead," and then there'll be a square provided for Joe and Mary's Lodge. It will say "3 kilometres," with an arrow, and then after the exit it will say: "Joe and Mary's Lodge, 2 kilometres," et cetera. But it will be all part of a uniform signage policy across the province, and on the first ones we put up we will be providing without charge the sign and the name and description of the product.
As the program gets further advanced, for such things as the Holiday Inn in Cranbrook, for instance, the sign would say: "Holiday Inn, Cranbrook." They would have to pay for that and their logo and add them to the sign for their section. If there are four lodges or hotels that want to tell the story ahead of time on a highway sign, fair enough, that will be provided. But the provision for telling the travelling public about Joe and Mary's Lodge, the ski resort, the fishing lodge, the restaurant and the attractions — zoos, museums, historical sites off the highway — will now be described ahead of time in as simple terms as possible so that you can be very general. As you get closer to the product, they'll be product specific, where possible. We will do as much as we can. It's our ministry's mandate to get people into the lodges. That's a commitment. We want people to stay overnight at every lodge in the province. Every resort needs a visitor; every restaurant should have somebody stop there. It's our mandate to do the best we can, and we've got a universal signage policy to do that.
Some of those out there now, as you know, are very spasmodic, very mickey mouse, so our uniform policy, I'll tell you, will be so advanced it's very exciting.
MS. EDWARDS: With this program, is it a shared cost? Let's get down to the bucks. Is it a shared cost with the Ministry of Highways or does the Ministry of Tourism have to pay it all? Where is it in the budget? How much is going into it this year? And just one other thing. As I say, Joe and Mary often talk to George and Frieda, who have the field down the way, and they stick up a homemade sign. Will there be more restrictions on that kind of signing because of this?
HON. MR. REID: Third-party signs will no longer be allowed within — it's a Highways policy — 300 metres, I think, of the centre line. Third-party or second-party signs, either on somebody else's property. . . . The only one it can be on is your own. If you own the property then you can sign it.
On the question about funding, I'm happy to say that the Highways ministry has taken on the role of providing all the new signage; the new signage program across the province will be paid for out of the Highways budget. My ministry will just help them make the decisions. We don't have to pay anything for it.
MS. EDWARDS: How nice. Actually, I'm really pleased about that for a couple of reasons. I'm always interested to know when the ministry is able to persuade another ministry to do some of the things that will help with this industry that we are both so supportive of. Because of that, I want to go to some discussion about Highway 3, the Coquihalla Highway and the Coquihalla cutoff, and there are some other points in the province that we could talk about, and in general the Highways proposals for the province.
One of my colleagues, the first member for Vancouver East (Mr. Williams), has made very clear — he did this the other day in the House — in talking about the Coquihalla cutoff, the connection to Peachland, that it could in fact be very destructive of the tourism establishment, the facilities and the resource there in Penticton and of the rest of that area. I know that partly because of the fact that so much money has been and is continuing to be poured into the central part of the province for the Coquihalla original phase and phases 2 and 3, and so on, there is considerable agitation in the communities along Highway 3 that there be some upgrading.
This of course is taken directly, first of all, to the Ministry of Transportation and Highways, but the effect on tourism is huge, Mr. Minister, and I would like to have you make a statement about how you can make some influence on where these highways are and where the good development is located, how it's done, and what kind of input you make sure you have into these kinds of decisions?
HON. MR. REID: I would suggest that my ministry is probably one of the most influential in government, because of the overlap it has in such far-reaching areas. One of them, because of the economic spinoffs of tourism and the understanding of the other ministers of the impact of tourism in relation to all the things they do. . . . There's no question that ongoing discussions with the Highways minister. . . . If funds were available to do all of the needed highway improvements in the province, this would be an incredible province to live in. Unfortunately, the allocation of funds in 1988-89 is such that there are some areas that are going to have to go with the status quo.
I want to convince you, if I can, that there is no desperation on Highway 3 as it leaves Hope and goes up through Princeton and down into the south part of the Okanagan. I can tell you that when I talked to the mayor of Princeton the last time, she was ecstatic about what's happening to her little community compared to what they expected to happen. She said there are 7,000 cars a day going by her town. What she said to me was: "Mr. Minister, what I can't believe is that they're not going by at 80 mph anymore. These people are real tourists. They're stopping in town. Look, every restaurant has cars in it. Every ice cream store has people in it. You're doing the right thing in promoting our area as a destination."
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I want to tell you, before you go off on a tangent about the destruction of the province as a result of the Coquihalla, that the Coquihalla serves a certain clientele. All the clientele using the Coquihalla are determined to get up into the interior faster than any other way; they're interested in speed. I'm not interested in speed. I'm interested in somehow retaining the people in the community one day longer; seeing the product called Princeton; seeing the product called Osoyoos; seeing the product called Manning Park. And they're doing it in record numbers.
If you're getting that message from the mayor of Princeton, I don't know what she told you, but she told me things are great. If she told you something different, then I'm not up to speed, because it was just a couple of months ago that I spoke to her,
MS. EDWARDS: I certainly know that the top priority for the Oliver council, which is a tourist community, is in fact the upgrading of Highways 3, 97, 5A and 40. I know very well that the priority of the tourism people and the chambers of commerce in our area is to get some upgrading on Highway 3, because what might happen if we don't have some upgrading very soon is . . . . We'll have tourism there because their car fell into a pothole.
There are some parts of Highway 3 that have not been touched for too long, and there are certainly parts of it that need redesigning, because it was built . . . . I guess it's some 37 years ago now that parts of it were put together. That was when it was completed as a transProvincial highway.
I'm curious to know what the minister thinks about other highways and proposals for new routes to match Alberta routes. Of course, there are proposals right now for two of them. One of them is for Highway 43, which would go from Elkford to Alberta, and there is some discussion about that. The reason the communities in that area want it is partly for tourism development. They want to develop it for tourism. They would need, I think, to have considerable feasibility studies done on that before they do it. Part of it is because they are at the end of the road and they can't get out in case of a forest fire.
That proposal for a highway has been around. I know you've been lobbied on it. I read in the paper that there is a proposal for another highway up in the northern part of the province north of, I think, the Yellowhead. Is that correct? I'm not sure exactly where that one is. I assume that you would be lobbied. Certainly the reports are that the reason for that highway would be increased tourism.
HON. MR. REID: Mr. Chairman, I don't know that my ministry encompasses highways at the moment. Maybe you've been talking to the Premier and he hasn't told me yet that I'm also getting that ministry. I could handle it if that was the case, if you wanted me to.
In answer to your question about allocation of funds for highway improvements, I make a case for the whole industry around the province. If we could spread the money out so we that we could improve all portions of the province equally, that would be ideal, but I don't think it's conceivable and possible. But I can tell you one thing for sure, Madam Member: I continue to press for that component of tourism, the rubber tire traffic, which is our biggest tourism component, and for its ready access to many facilities and communities around the province.
We may not be able to do it in Cadillac style on every road and in every community. We've been told by our survey that it's not necessarily what people want. North-by-Northwest, where half the road is gravel . . . . From Stewart and Cassiar right through to the Yukon border is a gravel road, and yet they were up by, I think, 54 percent in their visitations in '87 over '86. If you're getting that kind of incremental gain in rubber tire traffic on roads which are questionable . . . . I say to you that if we had the money we would certainly do something about it. But there are demands in relation to tourism traffic on highways that I think you had better make to the Minister of Highways in his estimates. In relation to my concern for it, I continue to make the case, but I can't be specific because there are needs in every community in relation to the improvements needed.
MS. EDWARDS: I certainly appreciate that you are trying to make a case to somebody else for those kinds of things, but of course if you have a doubling or at least that major increase — I've forgotten exactly the figure you said — on gravel roads, think what you'd have if you had paved roads.
On the same tack, but with a view to airline service, the airline service that comes into this province is crucial to what happens to our tourism industry. There are evidently some plans — and they're widely held — to withdraw jet service from the Penticton airport and cut back on the customs services there. I don't know how those are tied. I know if the jet service isn't there, the customs wouldn't be there, and I am assuming it's in that order that it was considered,
I know that your ministry — because you've said it before — is very interested in whether communities are served, by what kind of airplanes, where they're from and whether or not that kind of travel can be used by tourists. Have you made any representations to any of your ministers, the federal government or to private companies about the threat to air service and therefore to the tourism industry in Penticton?
HON. MR. REID: The answer is no. I wasn't aware there was a problem there.
MS. EDWARDS: One of the areas in the province, as I mentioned before, and you, I think, nodded your head . . . . We'll agree on this. The cruise ship industry has increased in the last several years. It's been one of the bright spots on the tourism profile. There is a problem, however. The minister is probably aware as well that in March this year the Vancouver port revised their estimate of the value of the cruise ship industry to the province. Even though the numbers are going up — the calculations of the value of this particular industry — they revised them downward from $300 million a year to $70 million a year. This is despite the record of nearly 314,000 passengers who passed through for cruising purposes in 1987. A spokesman says that the U.S. ports of call on the cruise schedule get a disproportionate share of the revenue from the trade. Has the ministry been doing any study of the cruise ship industry and keeping an eye on whether it's likely to grow?
Also, exactly what kind of value does British Columbia get for a cruise ship visitor versus a visitor who comes and actually sleeps in a hotel — perhaps if they come by air or as rubber tire traffic?
HON. MR. REID: Mr. Chairman, I thank that member for that question. One of the very high successes in the province has been the increase in the volume of the cruise
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ship industry since 1985. The number she actually points out was in fact 400 more passenger arrivals and departures in '87 over '86 — which was an absolutely incredible year. So '87 even surpassed that. Those numbers were generated by a spokesperson for the cruise ship industry, who is no longer part of the industry. Probably one the reasons he isn't is that he used numbers like $300 million, which were not factual. The factual number that's been generated now by the people of the Cruise Industry Association of British Columbia, who have now done detailed follow-up on the actual numbers generated by a cruise ship visit into British Columbia, is somewhere around $77 million. That number does equate to the amount of money spent at restaurants while the visitors are on their way either to or from the cruise ship, whether in fact they stay one, two or three days — and we know all those facts now. We know all the details as to whether they stay one or two days post- and pre-cruise sailing, whether in fact they buy souvenirs, what kind of souvenirs they buy, what kind of money they spend, what kind of accommodation rental they pay, how much taxi usage they pay for, what kind of attraction visits — museums and things — they pay to visit. All those things are equated into the $77 million.
So the question to me was: do we have any idea of the income to the province from the cruise ship industry? The answer is unequivocally yes. Do we follow it on a regular basis? The answer is yes. Are we doing anything further to enhance our position relative to it? You bet your boots. We have just completed — which will be available to you very shortly, because it's just being fine-tuned in a printing state — a full report on the cruise ship industry in British Columbia, what it does for the province, the opportunities for further cruising and for pocket cruises to small ports in and around the province. It indicates also — you can pass this on if you wish — the inadequacies of some of the ports out there, and what they need to improve their port, big or small, in order to attract the tourism industry there.
It also talks about the Victoria shipping. I don't know if you read yesterday's or today's news. It indicated that there was going to be a reduction of 10 sailings into Victoria this year. That reduction into Victoria is not a reduction into B.C. Those sailings are still going into Vancouver. It looks like Vancouver is probably going to have a 5 percent or 6 percent incremental increase in 1988 over '87.
AN HON. MEMBER: The first ship came in today.
HON. MR. REID: The Noordam is here today; its maiden sailing out of Vancouver is this Friday. I want to tell you — in answer to the question, because you should have all the answers — that we are excited about what the cruise ship industry brings to B.C. If there is the potential to get more spending out of the visitors to the cruise ship industry through Vancouver, we're working on it. We need to get the tourism people — the industry itself, not the ministry — to make more attractive opportunities for the visitor who's coming.
If you get 313,000 visitors to British Columbia in 1987, and you haven't put your best foot forward to attract them to your museum or your Fantasy Gardens or your attraction, whatever it is, there's something wrong with your marketing program. These people are arriving in record numbers, and they're going to the ship and bedding down and eating. The ship provides them with accommodation and meals. The only time they will spend off the ship is when they are invited off, because most of them arrive to go on an Alaska cruise, by and large. They're really visiting Vancouver, and we're grateful for that. . . .
We're working on it. As I told you, we have just finished a $40,000 or $50,000 study in cooperation with the federal government on how we can get more of the spending funds from these people who are visiting. How can we really get them to spend in the community? We're working on that very aggressively.
MS. EDWARDS: I'm very pleased that you're working on it. The minister again talks about marketing. There must be something wrong with your marketing program if you don't get them to do it.
Mr. Minister, marketing is a core of this ministry's function. How do you expect to continue to have this many visitors? In the cruise ship industry, in particular, you are drawing them from off-shore mainly. You have to be doing that kind of marketing to get them to continue; it's an investment. Even though, as you say, the original estimate may have been overblown, and you can get along — I imagine we all can — with $70-some million from 313,000 visitors . . . . I don't know, but maybe you can. However, I have been told that the Holland America cruise line says it anticipates that the fall in the ministry's marketing budget this year will give them more difficulty attracting people to the province.
There are lots of competitors out there, Mr. Minister. As I understand it, this, which is the cream of the crop of the tourism business . . . . You've got fairly good spenders going on cruises. If you can get them off the ship, if you can get them spending money . . . . You've got all sorts of people participating in this. How are you going to keep them coming unless you keep that marketing program up there and keep it out there offshore?
HON. MR. REID: Mr. Chairman, I don't know how many times I can tell her that the Super, Natural British Columbia marketing program that we have had in place has been so successful; the cruise ship industry attention to B.C. indicates that. With the cruise ship people talking about our product across North America, I'd be willing to bet just about any money she'd like to put up that 1988 will be better than '87 in cruise ship visitors to B.C. I have the confidence that it's happening. The market program and the way we're allocating our funds are totally successful, and '88 is going to be proof of that.
MS. EDWARDS: Mr. Minister, we've talked for a long time about ERDA agreements. It was quite a while ago — March '87, I think — that I asked the minister about the subagreement on economic and regional development. That program was signed. There was an agreement in place, and then the ministry decided — I believe the government decided — that they would change it. For a while no applications were taken under the tourism subagreement. Now it's back. You are negotiating again, as I understand it. What is the state of affairs vis-à-vis the ERD agreement with the federal government for funding of the tourism industry?
HON. MR. REID: Mr. Chairman, I want to tell you that the development division of my ministry is represented by Mr. Jim Doswell, and it is very aggressively working with every tourism component out there, every attraction that
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needs government advice or assistance, and needs to make only one call. My ministry and my staff follow it up without question, and in 1987-88 we got in the neighbourhood of $10 million in our ERDA portion from the B.C. tourism component.
There was a bit of a lull until we got the ERDA negotiations with the federal government down to the point where it really was servicing the communities out there that had the strongest need. We were convinced that too much of the ERDA money was going to eastern Canada, so we needed to determine that what we were talking about collectively was in fact possible. Any project that has come to us that qualifies is now on the drawing-board, and if it qualifies in all the regulations that fit the ERDA, we don't have any problem giving it our total support.
MS. EDWARDS: Does that mean that you are no longer negotiating changes in the agreement? Because my last inquiry brought the response that, yes, you were still trying to make some changes in that agreement. I believe that there were some extensions or an expansion of the definition of the projects that could be funded. Now I think the minister has some doubts about how that help and assistance were going to be provided. You are now saying that you would support any application that meets the requirements. Does that mean that the negotiations are not going on and that you are going to stick with the agreement as it was in operation last year?
While that's going on, I wonder if some of your staff could get together some figures for me on the number of applicants approved under that $10 million. Is there a cap on it for this year?
HON. MR. REID: The answer to the last question is that the cap is $10 million. Once we've spent the $10 million, that's it. If you want a list of the projects, I don't have it here. They are on a printout, and we can certainly get you copies of the ones in the treadmill.
The answer to your other question is that negotiations, through the administrative structure of the operation between the provincial and federal governments now.... The discussions about the minor amendments that can be negotiated in relation to the description of a destination resort or a destination attraction are ongoing. We have some applications made by products and components around B.C. who have asked us to make a pitch on their behalf to get them considered, which we're doing. I don't have any evidence at the moment that the federal government has agreed to any of those, even though they are small modification requests.
An example is the Fort Langley historical site. There are a couple of others on the drawing board that don't qualify under the regulations as they were defined. But we do have, as I want to emphasize to you, the administration of my ministry and the federal ministry working on fine-tuning that so they can qualify as an international attraction for tourism destination, and there are some small modifications they can make in that and they can qualify.
Ainsworth Hot Springs up in your area was one of them, which we did fund just last year. It had some problems qualifying, but with some negotiations we were able to qualify. They were probably the only one in the province outside of the current regulations, but because of the case made on behalf of everybody to the feds, we were able to get them to agree to that. We have the assurance that those kinds of cases will be made on an individual basis. But it's a maximum cap to $10 million, and in this industry it isn't much that can be spread around the province that will qualify for $10 million and give you any impact.
I can tell you the other development under the private sector that doesn't need government money is in the neighbourhood of hundreds of millions that are on the drawing board, that my staff are putting venture capital people with, offshore money with, people who want to invest in tourism attractions. It's a hot product now. It wasn't two years ago. People didn't want to invest in resorts two years ago. Now lots of people are interested, but they need advice and guidance from my staff and my development division. There's no question, we're leading the rest of Canada in relation to that also.
The federal government is not totally cooperative in these funding programs. If we had our druthers, we could probably spend our share of it right away. But we don't have the ultimate decision. It's not with us.
MS. EDWARDS: Is that $10 million within your own budget, or is that the federal government $10 million and provincial $10 million?
HON. MR. REID: Five and five.
MS. EDWARDS: It's only $5 million. It's $5 million from the provincial ministry. No.
HON. MR. REID: No, ERDA funding allocation comes out of the Economic Development Ministry's office. It's not in my budget. We have my ministry staff sit on the committee to allocate, view and short-list the projects. We do not have the funds within our budget.
MS. EDWARDS: All right, Mr. Minister. I guess we're going to start an issue that may take a while because I wanted to talk to you about hotel room taxes and your response to the idea of the hotel taxation having been brought up last year to 8 percent instead of 7 percent, with the other social services tax being reduced to 6 percent. The hotel room tax itself is now 2 percent higher than the sales tax on anything else, the other goods in the province. Of course, now we have all sorts of concerns coming from a number of people, since the Whistler group has decided to levy a 2 percent tax on top of that. The consequences of that particular legislation, which was brought in last year, are beginning to raise cries of protest.
I'm curious about the minister's attitude on this: whether or not he was in favour and continues to be in favour of it and perceives that the hotel business, which is so much a part of the tourism industry.... What is your response to the very high taxation on hotel rooms?
HON. MR. REID: I want to tell you that if there was a concern about the increase from 7 percent to 8 percent and if it was going to have a disastrous effect on the hotel income in British Columbia, then I don't know who's paying the money for the room rentals and who's generating the additional $8 million in March in British Columbia if it isn't the traveller and the visitor who's happy to pay it. I haven't got on my desk one single complaint from one visitor to B.C. about the hotel tax, which the visitor pays. Inasmuch as there aren't complaints coming in from the visitor, and it's generating in excess of $40 million for the coffers of the province and
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allowing my ministry to access those funds for paying for promotion and marketing to bring these people in .... That's what it's all about. If we can get it from somebody else rather than our own local taxpayers, I would continue to encourage that.
I'm really tickled and happy that Whistler has finally decided to apply, as a community and a municipality, a 2 percent provision that they've had available for them to strengthen their tourism promotion and marketing on behalf of their community, which they say they so direly need. The money they're generating for that is not coming from the taxpayer of Whistler; it's coming from the person travelling into the community and staying in those facilities — who, from all indications I've got, is happy to pay it.
MS. EDWARDS: From what you say, would it be fair to suggest that you would like to see the other municipalities and regional districts throughout the province also ask to have that 2 percent tax imposed and have the expenditure of that amount of money be decided, presumably, by the Minister of Finance?
HON. MR. REID: I hope she hasn't got some wrong information in respect to that, because the decision, first of all, to collect the additional 2 percent is a decision made by the community or the municipality by referendum. They then pass a resolution of the municipality or the council of the day on applying the tax. Once they've agreed to apply it, they also have to get permission for applying the tax to the region or their community from the Finance minister so that their description of the collection and the allocation is as the act and the regulations point out, which is for tourism promotion projects.
The executive council has the authority to approve the bylaw, but the bylaw has to be specific on what they're going to use the funds for. They can't use them for road improvements or sewer projects. They must use them for projects related to tourism promotion.
MS. EDWARDS: It has to be tourism promotion. Could you define for me, Mr. Minister, what you mean by tourism promotion? Could it be support of the infrastructure in some other way than by promotion? What are the limits on that? They're not clearly defined in the act.
HON. MR. REID: They're not clearly defined because there is only one municipality that has brought it in, the municipality which has applied it. You can't apply it across the province yet, because there have been no other requests. There has been a scare tactic from your people over there to not apply it. I can tell you that it's a positive move, because somebody else is paying it. I can't believe that socialists don't want somebody else to pay the bills. They want everybody else to pay their bills all the way. Why don't they want tourists to pay the bill in relation to promotion of tourism?
Tourism promotion as it equates to the Whistler one was specific, and it talked about the tourism products. There are marketing components that they have. They have, I think, some . . . . I don't know exactly what they were, but they were three or four specific projects which were defined by them to be tourism promotion. Far be it from me to stand here and list for you what would be considered tourism promotion. Each community may have a different request as it relates to promoting tourism to their area. If they can make a case for it, that's the justifiable referendum they have. God forbid, if we start telling them what they want to define as tourism promotion . . . . I don't have the words to describe it to you. I don't have any intention of trying to describe it to you, except in the global sense called tourism promotion. I would hope it would be pretty flexible, so it works.
MS. EDWARDS: One of the points about this proposal — this bill that allows things that have not yet happened, and I use the word "proposal" in that sense, not because it's not usable. . . . One of the problems with it is that it is not very clearly defined, and that it depends on an acceptance by the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council in order to be carried out. Is that not correct?
In other words, it has to go to cabinet, and it's not then really. . . . It has some problems calling it a program that would be directed by a municipality or regional district area. In fact, it's a matter of negotiation; as you say, it's very broad. But the ultimate decision on how those dollars can be spent is going to remain with cabinet.
HON. MR. REID: Mr. Chairman, the answer is no.
MS. EDWARDS: Are you saying that because the regional district or the municipality that would ask for that tax to be collected has to lay out how they want to use it; so the decision is theirs? I certainly recognize that to be the case, but the ultimate decision as to whether those particular plans are acceptable remains not with the ministry, not with the Minister of Finance who collects the tax, but with the cabinet in general. Is that correct?
HON. MR. REID: Mr. Chairman, inasmuch as we have only one municipality which has just — within a week — agreed to the process, and we've agreed by cabinet to them using their description of a tourism promotion and agreed to their request . . . . I don't have the act in front of me, but the act provides that the local region, the local municipality, determines what they want to spend it on. There is a regulation which says you must meet the commitment that you made; you can't collect it for one reason and spend it on another. So the description on their promotion is in their request. Somewhere down the line, once they've covered that request . . . . If the request happens to be for a walking trail, for instance — if that's what they decided was the highest and most important tourism promotion product that they're going to collect for — once that's completed they have to come back and make a case for allocation of the funds for some other purpose and get approval for it. Yes, that's the case. That will happen. It has to happen. Otherwise, once the promotion that they've made is looked after, then what?
MS. EDWARDS: Yes, Mr. Minister, I think that was my question too: after spending it, then what?
Very clearly, there are these steps to the process. First of all, a municipality — we shall assume it's a municipality — has to ask the minister to collect 2 percent more taxation. Then I understood that there would be a plan for a continuing collection of the 2 percent amount and ways in which that municipality could spend that money. In other words, it would be laid out for a continuing process. What you've just said leads me to think that perhaps the Minister of Finance is going to collect that 2 percent once it's approved, but project
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by project, does that municipality have to come back and get approval?
HON. MR. REID: No. The agreement to allow it to be put in place was defined by description of a tourism development project or projects, and they decided that tourism promotion, in a global sense, is what they want to use it for. They won't get the money until it comes into the coffers of the Treasury Board. Then the Finance minister will advise them on an annual basis — or a six-month basis or whatever — how much money is in the coffers. They have determined that it's going to be for tourism promotion, so their tourism promotion is going to be for a given project or subject. They make an application for the $100,000 that's in the pot for that purpose, and it will be advanced to them for that purpose.
It's not much different from other taxations collected around the province for other reasons. If you collect general taxes and put it in the pot, and you say you're going to allocate it to something, that's where it goes. I don't know what you're getting at.
MS. EDWARDS: What you're saying is that if that municipality got lax or if for some reason they got a magnificent bargain and didn't spend all the money collected, that money would remain in the provincial coffers. I suspect that most municipalities don't want to do that. What is the procedure here? You're telling me that you advocate it. I suspect you advocate it because you like tourism promotion, but how is it going to work? Who's going to control it? Is this a continuing thing?
Would the municipalities, for example, have a plan in place and say: "We will use this for these kinds of projects; we will have continuing support of the swimming pool; we will have a tourism information booth down at the border; and for the operation of that, we will get this 2 percent tax back." Or every time it wants to, does it have to annually say, "We want to spend this much money on the tourism information booth at the border," and come back six months later and say: "We still have an operating budget for the information booth." Surely there should be some plan now for this kind of money that would go into the tourism industry.
HON. MR. REID: Where I'm having some difficulty is that it's not in my estimates. I don't have any section to cover the question. I don't have a budget number for it. It doesn't come under my ministry. I was giving her the courtesy of answering her question because it was general in nature, but we've gone on for half an hour and talked about a tax which I don't have any control over. She asked me if I agree with it, and the answer is yes. How are they going to disburse it? That's for Whistler and the Treasury Board to worry about.
If I had my way .... It says "tourism development." I'm going after them when they've got some in the pot to tell them to help me and Partners in Tourism in some development projects. No question about it. But it's not in my budget. I don't know how much more time you want me to spend on it. Talk about something that I'm spending. I'm not spending a penny on it.
HON. MR. STRACHAN: I move the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
The committee, having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.
Hon. Mr. Strachan moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 5:58 p.m.